False Alarm Forum: Los Angeles and Milwaukee Finalize Alarm Policies

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved on Sept. 21 a new alarm ordinance that makes permanent a limited form of verified response and authorizes a $115 fine for a first-time false alarm offense.

Los Angeles Councilwoman Janice Hahn, a verified response opponent, said the passage ends a nearly three-year-long debate that nearly resulted in a total verified response policy for the second largest city in the nation.

“There’s going to be a review, but this is the ordinance that will stand for a long time,” Hahn says.

Police will not respond to a burglar alarm at an alarm customer with more than two false alarms in a year unless it is verified at the source. The new ordinance also sets up a “no free false alarm” fine structure where a customer will be fined $150 for a first false alarm.

Meanwhile, verified response became a reality in Milwaukee on Sept. 19 with alarm companies in the city raising rates and warning of threats to public safety. Milwaukee is now the largest U.S. city to have initiated a total verified response policy. Milwaukee’s Common Council passed a measure Sept. 21 that suspends or revokes the licenses of alarm companies that cannot prove they can confirm break-ins with police.

Able Security Systems President John Evans has had to raise his monthly rate $10 for commercial customers and $5 for residential clients. “We’re getting some angry feedback from customers for the added cost, but they’re not blaming us,” Evans says. “They’re just angry with the situation and, more importantly, concerned because they want police response more than guard response.”


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