Common Council’s Unanimous Vote Raised False Alarm Penalty


A new ordinance in South Bend, Ind., that will fine users
after three false alarms is scheduled to take effect Jan.
1, 2004.

The common council for the city of approximately 107,000 people unanimously adopted the ordinance, which allows the city to fine alarm users beginning with the fourth bogus alarm in one year. A user would be fined $100 for a fourth false alarm while the fifth and subsequent false alarms could result in a $200 fine for each offense.

An earlier version of the ordinance allowed for a $25 fine. More than seeking to fine users, city officials say the ordinance is intended to get businesses and homeowners to reduce the number of times firefighters and police officers are called to a location, explained South Bend police Lt. Dick Powers, according to the South Bend Tribune.

In 2002, there were more than 10,000 false residential and commercial burglary alarms alone leading to more than 2,500 hours of downtime for public safety personnel, Powers estimated.

The council also adopted a 15-minute waiting period after which police or firefighters could leave a location if it was determined that no emergency existed there. The Community Oriented Policing Leadership Council, which is made up of civilians, helped craft the measure.

Powers said a similar ordinance adopted earlier by another town nearby reduced the number of false alarms by more than 35 percent in the first six months.

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