False Alarm Update: City Considers Jail Time for False Alarm Offenders


A city in New Jersey is considering a new twist on punishment for alarm owners who commit multiple false alarms: jail time. The police department in Montclair, which lies seven miles north of Newark and about 16 miles northeast of New York City, is proposing a system of punishment for false alarm that leads up to a $1,000 fine and jail time.

According to the Montclair Times, after one “free” false alarm within a year for a residential or commercial alarm owner, the fines start at $50 for a second false alarm, $100 for a third and keep going up until reaching $1,000 and 90 days of jail.

Montclair Township Manager Joseph Hartnett told the Times that Police Chief David Sabagh’s proposal is not meant to punish all alarm users.

“This is not a draconian law meant to come down hard on all residents. It will affect a small group,” Hartnett said.

However, during the Montclair City Council’s Jan. 12 meeting, some councilpeople showed aversion to some aspects of the false alarm proposal.

“I don’t want to create a disincentive for people to have alarms,” said Councilman Gerald Tobin.

The council intends to consider the plan in February.

In other false alarm news …

OLYMPIA, Wash.: Police in the capital city of Washington are crediting a new alarm ordinance for cutting false alarms 71 percent since it went into effect last June.

According to the Olympian, police say they’re now responding to an average of 72 false alarms a month compared to the average of 250 a month they were responding to before the new ordinance went into effect.

Under the ordinance, residential and commercial alarm owners must pay a registration fee to receive police response. Then, alarm owners are fined $60 for each false alarm. In addition, someone at the site must verify alarms before police respond to alarm customers with more than three false alarms in a year.

LANSING, Mich.: The city that is home to Michigan State University is considering an alarm ordinance that would mandate alarm firms educate their customers on how to avoid false alarms.

Television station WILX says the Lansing City Council will consider a measure where alarm companies would be required to tell their customers how to cancel a false alarm before police are called. The proposed ordinance would also institute fines after three false alarms within as year.

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