False Alarm Update: Albuquerque, Fremont, Chicago, Lodi


City officials in Albuquerque say a system of fees has helped cut down on the number of false burglar alarms. An alarm ordinance passed in March 2003 has resulted in a 30-percent reduction in false dispatches according to the Albuquerque city councilor.

Sally Mayer told KOAT-TV that between June 2003 and December 2003, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD)  responded to more than 13,000 false-alarm calls, but that number went down to 9,000 in the same period in 2004.

“It was equivalent to 27 full-time police officers answering false alarms,” Mayer told KOAT. “With that 30-percent reduction, that put nine police officers back on the street.”

Under the ordinance, commercial alarm owners pay $300 for each false alarm in excess of three in a calendar year, while residential customers pay $150 for each false dispatch beyond a third.

In other false alarm news …

FREMONT, Calif.: Residents and alarm industry officials criticized Fremont’s impending verified response policy during public comment at the Fremont City Council’s Feb. 22 meeting. However, a majority of the council said they stood by Fremont Police Chief Craig Steckler and his new policy, which is to go into effect March 20.

At the meeting, Steckler affirmed what he told Security Sales & Integration the week before: That there will be no further delay in implementing verified response.

Under the new policy, Fremont police will no longer respond to burglar alarms unless a resident, property owner or alarm company employee is able to show evidence that a crime occurred, such as glass breakage or seeing a suspicious person.

Fremont resident Julie Threet told the council she plans on purchasing a gun to feel safer at home after verified response is policy. “Burglars will no longer be scared off,” Threet said according to The Argus. “They will stay in our homes longer, and increase the loss of property and the chance that we will come home when a burglary is in progress.”

However, Fremont Vice Mayor Dominic Dutra responded that the new policy is necessary in the wake of the city’s budget situation and police staffing shortages, and accused the alarm industry of scare tactics. “This is a predictable effort on the part of the alarm industry to attack the police chief,” Dutra said. “They are scared to death a city the size of Fremont would have the courage to protect all of its citizens and stand up to the alarm industry.”

The only dissent on the council was by Councilman Bill Pease, who lost the city’s election for mayor to former police chief Bob Wasserman in November. “Why would we announce to the world that we will not respond to burglar alarms?” Pease said. “It ups the anticipation in my mind that petty criminals are coming to Fremont’s borders.”

LANSING, Ill.: The Chicago suburb of Lansing is easing false alarm fines for business owners after the village’s mayor said the system of fines had brought false alarms down.

Mayor Dan Podgorski announced that businesses will now be allowed two false alarms before fines are assessed, according to the Chicago Tribune. Previously, businesses were allowed on one false alarm in a calendar year.

In addition, instead of a maximum fine of $1,000 for each false dispatch in excess of 10, the maximum fine will now be $250.

Podgorski says there has been a 25-percent reduction in false alarms in the past year.

LODI, Calif.: The Northern California city 40 miles south of Sacramento is considering a new fire alarm ordinance that will set up a fine structure for false alarms.

According to the Lodi News-Sentinel, the Lodi City Council will hear on March 16 a proposal that will fine homes and businesses for each false fire alarm beyond three in a calendar year.

A fourth false alarm would result in a $75 fine, a fifth $150 and each false alarm after that $393.

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