Atlanta revamps alarm ordinance, looks to collect $3 million

ATLANTA—Atlanta's City Council hopes to collect $3 million from people who have multiple false alarms at their homes or businesses. The 15-person council voted unanimously Thursday, Jan. 22 on a proposal that increases fines and simplifies the penalty process regarding fire and burglar alarms. “The Atlanta Police Department supports the legislation on false alarms which will reduce the number of false alarm calls generated,” said Deputy Chief George Turner of the Atlanta Police Department in a statement. “This will create additional manpower hours to respond to the present call volume and increase police visibility in the Atlanta communities.” While Atlanta has had false alarm penalties in place for a while, it has not collected any fine revenue since 2005. According to the proposed ordinance, a project of Councilmember Anne Fauver, Atlanta had $4.4 million in issued, but uncollected false alarm fines in 2002. From 2000-2004 Atlanta saw revenues of only $1.5 million in collected fines. The reason for the drop off in collected fines? Fauver claims the ordinance was too difficult to enforce and that police stopped giving citations. Fauver believes the new ordinance will help the city out of its current budget hole. “The City’s emergency personnel need to be available for valid alarms and for their primary purpose of protecting our citizens,” said Fauver in a release. The ordinance gives a free pass for the first false alarm, but after that, penalties escalate from $100 for the second false alarm to $1000 for any false alarms over six in a calendar year. Under the ordinance, citations would be enforced like traffic tickets through the city's municipal court, and would allow for appeals. The legislation will go into effect upon approval by the mayor.