Calif. City Wants to Fine Security Firms for False Alarms

A proposed ordinance introduces a zero-tolerance policy, which fines alarm firms for any false dispatches.

CHICO, Calif. – The city council has approved an alarm ordinance that will hold alarm companies accountable for false intrusion alarms.

The new law introduces a zero-tolerance policy, which penalizes alarm companies with fines for any false alarms that the Chico Police Department answers, ChicoER News reports.

With the new ordinance, the city hopes alarm monitoring companies would be motivated to self-police false alarm offenders.

Alarm companies would face fines of $100 for a first offense, $200 for a second offense and $300 for a third and any subsequent offenses.

The ordinance would override a recent policy change in which police stopped responding to unverified alarm calls due to limited staffing resources.

In 2012, Chico police received more than 3,200 false alarm calls, which required the response of at least two police officers, prompting the city to adopt a verified alarm response system in June 2014. Since implementing that policy, the city has obtained a near-complete reduction in false alarm response.

So why do city officials want to charge alarm companies for false alarms?

Officials reason that alarm companies hold and profit from individual alarm user accounts and city services are used by those businesses to respond to thousands of false alarms annually, the majority of which are false, according to ChicoER News.

The law still requires a second reading and adoption.

If approved, it is believed that Chico would be the first city in California to fine alarm companies rather than alarm users.

However, the alarm industry is not too thrilled about the proposed ordinance and has threatened to take legal action against the city if alarm monitoring firms are fined. Industry representatives stated that while they do see positives with the ordinance, the responsibility of reducing false alarms should not be placed solely on alarm companies.

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