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Brookhaven Won’t Fine Alarm Companies Until Sandy Springs Row Is Resolved

Wary of potential litigation, the city will wait for a decision in a federal lawsuit filed by alarm companies against the city of Sandy Springs, Ga.

BROOKHAVEN, Ga. — When the City Council here approved an alarm ordinance last year, it placed the burden on alarm companies to foot the bill for false alarm fines. The ordinance, which was to go into effect Sept. 1, has now been put on hold.

The City Council has decided instead to forgo enforcing the law and wait for a decision in a federal lawsuit filed by alarm companies against the city of Sandy Springs claiming their similar false alarm ordinance is unconstitutional, according to reporternewspapers.net.

Brad Carver, a lobbyist from the alarm industry, spoke during public comment at the council’s Aug. 28 meeting and urged the council to wait 90 days for a decision in the Sandy Springs federal lawsuit, the website reported.

Carver requested the council to review a model ordinance the alarm industry has drafted and adopted by cities throughout Georgia, including Dunwoody. Dunwoody’s ordinance requires alarm owners to register their systems with the city and pay fines after several false alarms.

During the meeting, City Attorney Chris Balch explained Brookhaven’s ordinance, heavily modeled on Sandy Springs’ ordinance, puts the burden of finding ways to fix false alarms on the industry rather than the users. Before the new ordinance, false alarm fines were paid by homeowners and businesses.

“Our ordinance says the burden is on the alarm industry and it is their responsibility to train users,” Balch said. “Their ordinance shifts the burden back to police.”

Balch said the police department then has to use its police resources responding to false alarms and training the public how to use alarms. Brookhaven Police officers responded to 4,145 false alarms between July 31, 2016, and July 31, 2017, at a cost of $194,815 to the city, Balch said.

Councilmember Bates Mattison said he hoped a 90-day delay would “hopefully prevent litigation,” reporternewspapers.net reported.

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