False Alarm Fines Reduce Dispatches in N.J. Township


The police chief in Montclair, N.J., credits a new penalty system for an 18-percent reduction in false alarms that occurred in the city from January to May compared with the same five-month span in 2006, a newspaper reports.

Before the enactment of the system last year, police were responding to approximately 4,500 false alarm calls per year, according to the The Montclair Times.

“It’s definitely working,” Police Chief David Sabagh told the newspaper. “We’re seeing fewer false alarms, and that’s what it’s all about. I’d like to see [a drop of] 30 to 40 percent or more.”

The Montclair Police Department, in pitching the new false-alarm tracking system to municipal officials last spring, had said it hoped the fines would decrease the estimated 4,000 hours that police officers devote each year responding to nonemergencies, according to the newspaper.

Property owners are not fined for their first false alarm of the year, but for the second they’re charged $50, for the third $100, and for four or more they are billed $200 each.

The Township Council adopted the new ordinance last spring, but it took several months before it went into effect, since notice had to be sent to residents and their security companies, and alarm users had to register.

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