False Alarm Update: Bellingham, Pine Bluff, Santa Barbara


Police in Bellingham, Wash., are proposing a new verified response policy that includes the option of no response at all for repeat false alarm offenders. Under the proposal, to go before the Bellingham City Council Aug. 30, police would not respond to residential intrusion alarms unless they were verified by a private security guard or someone else on site. Police would also need verification from a commercial alarm between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.

Alarm companies in the city 90 miles north of Seattle near the Canadian border will be offering at the Aug. 30 meeting a proposal of their own that would establish a licensing and fee-based alarm policy as an alternative to the police proposal.

“It hurts to agree to a fine system, but it is what we’re looking at,” Jim Vos of Security Solutions NW, which owns Bellingham Lock & Safe, told The Bellingham Herald. “That is what we have to push for: the careless ones lose their rights.”

However, police say the city already has an alarm fine system that allows two false alarms in six months before a fine. According to the Herald, police say they have slowly abandoned the fine process, saying it costs too much in staff hours to enforce the policy and collect the fines.

Under the police proposal, alarm users would have to register with the city and pay a permit fee. There would be a fine for a first false alarm. After repeated false alarms, police could deem the alarm customer a “problem alarm” and stop all response to alarms there.

In other false alarm news …

PINE BLUFF, Ark.:Police in Pine Bluff, Ark., are informing alarm owners and alarm companies that they will soon be enforcing a city ordinance that accesses penalties for multiple false alarms. The ordinance calls for a $25 fine for four or more false alarms in one month or between seven and 15 during a calendar year.

Pine Bluff Sgt. Bob Rawlinson told The Commercial that no date has been set for the enforcement to begin but they wanted to let people know it is coming.

Sixteen to 30 false alarms in a year can result in a fine of $50 for each incident and businesses and individuals whose alarms go off 31 or more times in a year are to be fined $100 for each false alarm.

Police says officers have responded to more than 4,000 false alarms in the first seven months of this year. “When an officer responds to an alarm that is going off we never know when it’s real and when it’s not so it’s always considered to be real until proven otherwise,” Rawlinson told The Commercial. “We understand during inclement weather thunder and lightning will sometimes set off the alarms and that is taken into consideration but we still have to do it.”

SANTA BARBARA, Calif.:The coastal California city’s ordinance committee approved on Aug. 17 a new alarm ordinance that would raise the fines for false burglar alarms and sent it to the Santa Barbara City Council.

The ordinance, modeled after those in nearby Southern California cities Oxnard and Fullerton, would create an annual alarm registration fee and fine alarm users $75 for their third false alarm in a calendar year. The fourth would yield a $100 fee and there would be a $200 fee for each false alarm after that.

Santa Barbara Police Capt. Ed Szeyller told the Associated Press that verified response won’t be considered. “There’s movement afoot across the United States to not have police respond at all. We don’t really feel in this city that it is an option not to respond to calls,” Szeyller says.

WALNUT CREEK, Calif.: Police in the Central California coastal town say that starting Sept. 1, they will be tightening up is security alarm policy.

Starting on that day, residents and businesses will be required to obtain an alarm permit, which will be free to residential customers but cost businesses $25, according to the Contra Costa Times.

A false alarm fee structure will also kick in Sept. 1 that includes the possibility of no police response after a fifth false alarm. The first two false alarms in a 12-month period will result in warning letters before a $25 fine for a third false alarm and goes up by $25 for each further false alarm with a maximum fine of $100.

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