False Alarm Fees to Increase in Central California City
The city council in Lodi, Calif., voted to raise fees and fines for nuisance alarm offenders.
LODI, Calif. — The Lodi City Council overwhelmingly voted to approve increasing fees for alarm permits, alarm installation and false alarms during its meeting on Wednesday.
Lodi Police Capt. David Griffin told the Lodi News-Sentinel I the purpose of the new fees is to mitigate the number of false alarms in the city, located in the northern portion of California’s Central Valley.
Griffin explained the police department responds to quite a large amount of false alarms, so it is trying to reduce the amount of time the officers spend on unverified alarm calls, give officers more information when they’re on the scene, help offset the cost of police response to false alarms and reduce the amount of time they actually spend on those calls when it’s not needed.
Lodi’s alarm rate had not been updated since 1999 and the former alarm program lacked accountability for alarm installation reporting from alarm companies, Griffin said.
Currently when there is a false alarm, it takes a dispatcher six minutes to take the call and enter it into the system. Two officers are dispatched to each call. The average alarm call takes about 26 minutes. Police have responded to 1,738 false alarms so far this year, which has consumed 927 hours of time police could have been focusing on other important calls, Griffin said. The cost to the city: $70,928.
Under the new rules, there will be an alarm permit registration late fee of $25. Failure to respond to active alarms within 20 minutes will result in a $50 charge. A warning letter will be issued for the first false alarm and for the second false alarm there will be a $50 charge or an education course will be required.
The third false alarm will result in a $100 charge and a fourth false alarm will result in a $200 charge. There is a $500 charge for the fifth false alarm.
Security Providers Can Be Fined
The cost of alarm activation without a valid permit is $100 plus the permit fee for the first offense, $150 plus the permit fee for the second offense, $200 plus the permit fee for the third offense, $250 plus the permit fee for the fourth offense and $500 plus the permit fee for the fifth offense. Companies failing to report alarm installation or use enhanced call confirmation will be charged $50.
Alarm companies will be charged $100 for causing a false alarm. The alarm reinstatement fee is $50.
Two people from the public had questions about the new fee during the public hearing portion of the meeting Wednesday night.
Griffin told the newspaper that commercial alarms make up the bulk of false alarms in the city. He explained there is only a warning letter for the first false alarm offense and instead of paying the $50 charge for the second offense, the person can opt to take an educational course explaining ways he or she can fix their alarm situation that aren’t necessarily monetary.
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Who will be leading the educational course, someone from the alarm industry or a city representative?