Seattle Council Considers Raising False Alarm Fees, Studying Verified Response

SEATTLE—The Seattle Times reports that city council members in late October backed away from a proposed $75 registration fee for burglar alarms, but may raise fines for false alarms and study ways to cut down the police time spent responding to them. The fee had been proposed earlier in October to avoid some budget cuts proposed by the mayor.

The fee idea could have raised $3 million a year if imposed on all of the estimated 40,000 burglar alarms in the city, the newspaper says. It had been patterned after a similar plan floated by the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office.

Instead of a registration fee, Seattle City Council members are now talking about raising fines for false alarms from the current $50 to as high as $150, with the highest fines going to repeat offenders.

According to the article, Seattle spends an estimated $1 million a year sending police officers to check on automatic burglar alarms, of which nearly 99 percent turn out to be false. The money is the equivalent of 14 full-time police officers. “It’s a subsidy to the burglar-alarm industry, and it’s extremely costly,” Seattle Councilman Jim Compton says in the article.

Aside from raising the fine for false alarms, council members say they want to study moving to verified response.

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