Police in Sandy Springs Claim Early Success With Alarm Verification Law

The city’s ordinance mandates police not respond to home and business intrusion alarms without video, audio or in-person verification a crime is occurring.

SANDY SPRINGS, Ga. — The Sandy Springs Police Department said it is experiencing a drastic reduction in false alarm calls since the city’s controversial alarm verification ordinance went into effect June 19.

Sandy Springs is the first city in Georgia to require alarm companies to verify home and business intrusion alarms by using audio, video or an in-person verification before notifying 911. The law also includes steep fines on alarm companies for repeated false alarms.

According to Sandy Springs police, prior to the ordinance becoming law they responded to about 10,000 alarm calls each year with an average of a 110 calls per week, and more than 99% were false.

Via cbs46.com, Captain Dan Nable said he knew after doing research in other cities that the ordinance would be successful.

“We are down to 28 calls per week. That substantially reduces time officers waste going back and forth to a false calls. Now we can improve the time that officer spends investigating any crime or identifying suspects that are actually committing crimes get them arrested and off the street,” he said.

The police department released the following false alarm data.

Jan. 1 – June 18:

  • Total alarms, 2,666; these are alarms that made it to Sandy Springs’ 911 emergency call center, ChatComm. Does not include alarms that failed the test in the call center.
  • False alarms, 2,656; true alarms include any suspicious activity that resulted in conformation of criminal activity regardless of the nature of the activity.
  • Failure rate, 99.63%
  • Average alarms per week, 110

Since the ordinance went into effect, June 19-Aug. 31:

  • Total alarms, 371; these are alarms that made it to ChatComm. Does not include alarms that failed the test in the call center.
  • False alarms, 367; true alarms include any suspicious activity that resulted in conformation of criminal activity regardless of the nature of the activity.
  • Failure rate, 98.92%
  • Average alarms per week, 28.6

“We’re still at 99.2% of alarms are false even now, we expected we could eliminate most of those false alarms we would eliminate those calls,” Nable said.

The law currently only affects about 14,000 registered alarms in the city, which has a population of around 100,000 residents.

Of the reported 8,000 alarm calls last year in Sandy Springs, 99% were false alarms, according to police. That accounted for 17% of all calls to the 911 emergency dispatch center. City leaders cite they approved the law in part because false alarms distract police and dispatchers from actual emergencies.

The alarm industry fears it could set a legal precedent for other jurisdictions and sued to prevent the law from being implemented. The lawsuit — filed by a group of Georgia alarm companies and the Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC) — claimed the ordinance violated the alarm companies’ constitutional rights by fining them for the false alarms.

The lawsuit was dismissed by a U.S. District Court judge in December, and it is under appeal. According to SIAC, the 11th Circuit Court recently contacted its legal firm to announce SIAC’s request for oral arguments on its appeal was granted.

“This means our legal team will have the opportunity to make its case orally to the three-judge panel,” SIAC Executive Director Stan Martin told SSI. “This is a very significant and positive step in the appeal process. We’re very pleased the court wishes to hear more from our legal team before making a final determination on the appeal.”

No date has been set by the court to hear oral arguments.

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About the Author


Although Bosch’s name is quite familiar to those in the security industry, his previous experience has been in daily newspaper journalism. Prior to joining SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION in 2006, he spent 15 years with the Los Angeles Times, where he performed a wide assortment of editorial responsibilities, including feature and metro department assignments as well as content producing for latimes.com. Bosch is a graduate of California State University, Fresno with a degree in Mass Communication & Journalism. In 2007, he successfully completed the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association’s National Training School coursework to become a Certified Level I Alarm Technician.

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