Florida Panhandle City on Verge of Adopting False Alarm Fines
Panama City Beach Police Chief Drew Whitman said education will have to play an important role in helping stem false alarms.
PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. — The Panama City Beach City Council is studying options to quell false intrusion and fire alarms, which officials say waste money and divert resources away from people who might actually be in trouble.
During their Oct. 22 meeting, city council members approved the first of two readings of a new ordinance that would allow the city to fine businesses and residents whose alarm systems are falsely triggered. The intent of the edict is to free up time for first responders who could be potentially missing a true emergency in the process of responding to a false alarm.
“This is a huge drain on resources that could be better spent responding to emergency calls,” Vice Mayor Geoff McConnell said via the Panama City News Herald. “We don’t want to spend money on chasing these false alarms when the public isn’t going to benefit from the safety of (them).”
McConnell said that between the Panama City Beach Police Department and Panama City Beach Fire Rescue, more than 11,000 false alarms are reported every year. The majority of those are by the same handful of businesses that let their faulty systems go unchecked, he added.
According to the agenda from the city council meeting, the new ordinance would also make alarm systems, installation companies and monitoring companies register through the city.
Panama City Beach Police Chief Drew Whitman said education will have to play an important role in helping stem nuisance alarms.
“Those are alarms that we get to thinking that someone is breaking and entering or there’s a fire and we get there and it’s just a bad alarm system that no one wants to fix. We try to educate the owners and the business owners, but it’s taking away resources that we could really use,” Whitman said.
Whitman said a majority of the alarm calls that they respond to are false alarms, but he has trained each of his officers to respond to every call with the same seriousness.
The City Council is set to review the ruling for a second reading in the coming weeks.
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