The proposed ordinance updates the existing law to reflect three false alarm reduction strategies.
Strategy 1: Mandating alarm companies to use Enhanced Call Verification. This requires the alarm company to make at least two phone calls to numbers on a contact list to verify the validity of the alarm before calling 911. This proposed ordinance mandates all alarm companies use that process for a standard intrusion alarm, which at 87% is the majority of the alarms received. It does not mandate that process for robbery or panic type alarms, of if an alarm company is monitoring by sound or video and can visually or audibly confirm a crime is occurring.
- Companies that fail to use enhanced call verification for most alarms will be subject to a $250 penalty
Strategy 2: Requiring registration/permitting for alarm systems, which is already part of our current ordinance. It is important that law enforcement know where alarm systems are in the city, who is responsible for them, and how to contact those responsible parties when needed. Along with permitting, the proposed ordinance institutes an annual fee for the alarm systems that would help account for the higher level of police protection and response provided to those with alarm systems, and help offset the costs of responding to and checking on those alarms when they occur, and help offset the cost of administering the permitting and false alarm review and billing processes.
The proposed fee scale for permits is as follows:
- Normal residential permit: $30 annually
- Residential permit, alarm user disabled or over age 65: $15 annually
- Business or other than residential: $50 annually
- Registered non-profit entity: $25 annually
Permits will be valid for the year in which they were obtained. After June 30th of each year the cost for new permits are reduced by ½. Permit costs are not refundable, so a person that discontinues alarm use is not eligible for a refund for the remainder of the year.
Strategy 3: Creating penalties for repeated false alarms by assessing fines to alarm users for repeated false alarm responses. This is currently in the existing ordinance. The proposed ordinance updates this process and the penalties.
Officers are required to investigate any alarm response and to make a reasonable determination as to what caused the alarm and report whether it was a false alarm or a valid alarm. We would send monthly bills for documented false alarm responses. There is an opportunity to waive one false alarm fee every 12 months by taking an alarm awareness class which we anticipate offering online. The proposed ordinance has a system for alarm users to appeal charges first to a reviewing officer within the department, and then next to the city hearing examiner at the alarm users request.
- Any panic, duress, robbery, holdup, or silent alarm response false alarm charge is $200 each false alarm
- Any regular business or residential intrusion alarm is charged at $100 for each false alarm
- Penalty amounts double for response to unregistered alarm sites and require permitting in addition to the penalty amount
- The first false alarm in 12 months may be waived with a false alarm reduction class