False Alarm Update: Los Angeles, Macon, Granbury, Philadelphia


The battle over a new alarm policy in Los Angeles took
another turn on Oct. 31, as the latest attempt to revise
how the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) responds to
burglar alarms was delayed and the city’s council may
consider putting verified response back into

The LAPD has agreed to delay the new policy – where
officers would stop responding to unverified burglar alarms
at locations with more than two false calls in the previous
year – which was to have taken effect on Nov. 1 but was
delayed in response to concerns expressed by members of the
Los Angeles City Council. The council will take up a motion
on Nov. 4 where it may take over jurisdiction on the new
policy from the city’s Police Commission.

Councilman Jack Weiss, who with fellow Councilperson Cindy
Miscikowski has been leading efforts to have a verified
alarm policy for Los Angeles, used Halloween as a reference
when referring to the new policy, revised from an earlier
proposal that included verified response to burglar
alarms. “I think this new policy is a trick,” Weiss told
the Los Angeles Times. “It’s a train wreck that we
are trying to prevent.”

The city has debated for nearly a year on how to deal with
a 90-percent false alarm rate. The commission initially
adopted a policy in January where officers would no longer
respond to alarms unless the property owner was able to
verify it through cameras or on-site inspection. That
decision was met by stiff protest from residents and the
alarm industry, and Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn produced a
compromise policy approved by the commission July 22 where
officers would stop responding to unverified burglar alarms
at locations with more than two false calls in the previous

Weiss, Miscikowski and council President Alex Padilla have
introduced a motion where the council would take
jurisdiction of the policy. While the motion doesn’t
specify verified response, the motion would send the alarm
policy to the council’s Public Safety Committee where it
could be refined further. Miscikowski chairs the five-
member committee, which also counts Weiss and former LAPD
chief Bernard Parks as members.

However, on Jan. 27, the committee recommended by a 3-2
vote that Mayor Hahn veto the commission’s verified
response policy. Weiss and Miscikowski were the two
dissenting votes. Parks, elected to the city council in
March, wasn’t a member of the committee at the time.
However, while chief of police in February 1998, Parks
introduced verified response as an option for the LAPD to
cut down on false alarm responses.

Weiss told the Times that the policy’s impact hasn’t
been studied enough and the public hasn’t been notified
enough and council members want to make sure the new policy
is feasible. Weiss says it is tough to justify asking
voters to approve a new tax increase for more police if
officers would still be responding to thousands of false
alarms under the new policy.

In other false alarm news:

Macon, Ga.: Police would no longer respond to
burglar alarms at residences and businesses with seven or
more false alarms in a calendar year if Macon, Ga. passes a
proposed city ordinance.

The Macon City Council will consider in January a plan, in
additional to the no-response rule that requires alarm
users to pay to register with the city and sets increasing
fines for repeated false calls. Alarm owners would be
charged a $10 registration fee, which would cover the cost
of administering the ordinance. The fee, however, would be
waived if owners instead took an “alarm users awareness
class,” which would be designed to teach them about
responsible use, operation and maintenance of their

The proposed ordinance allows for three false alarms per
year. The fourth false alarm carries a $25 penalty, and the
fifth false call would mean a $50 penalty. The sixth time
it happens in a year, the penalty reaches $75. Once the
fines total $150, officers may not have to respond if the
alarm sounds.

Granbury, Tx.: The Granbury City Council will
consider Nov. 4 an ordinance raising the fees for false
alarms and would suspend alarm permits for customers with
excessive false alarms.

Under the proposal, residents would be allowed two free
false alarm calls in any month. After that, a $30 fee would
be charged for the next three to five calls in that
calendar month and $50 from there. If a resident has more
than 10 false alarm calls in any calendar month, after the
first two free calls, the permit to have an alarm system
would be suspended until the customer can prove they’ve had
their system repaired.

Philadelphia: It’s not just police and fire
departments that are losing sleep over false alarms. A
group of false alarms at a hotel in Philadelphia left the
Florida Panthers hockey team restless.

According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the
Panthers, in town Oct. 26 to play the Philadelphia Flyers,
were awoken twice by false fire alarms at their hotel, the
Ritz Carlton – once at 5:30 a.m. and again at 2:30 p.m.,
when most of the team was napping between practice and game
time. Hotel management says a high amount of rain triggered
the alarms.

It’s unclear whether the wake-up calls affected the
Panthers, but the team did lose the game that night, 5-1.

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