False Alarm Update: Salem, Baltimore, Gainesville
A city task force in Salem, Ore., has recommended a two-pronged approach to reducing police time spent responding to false alarms, including the enacting of a “verified response” policy.
The task force’s final report, released Nov. 21, recommends that Salem officers be dispatched only to alarms where a crime has been verified, either by a person at the scene or by electronic surveillance equipment.
At the same time, in a concession to the alarm industry, it also recommends that unverified burglar alarms be broadcast as “all-units bulletins,” giving any patrol officer in the city the discretion to respond. The group says this will improve police response by sending officers to actual crimes and giving more officers the option of investigating unverified alarms.
“What is coming out of this, I believe, is very doable and is going to be of benefit to the community,” Byron Hawkins, a task force member who works for a security firm, told the Salem Statesman Journal.
The Salem City Council will decide in January whether to enact the task force’s recommendations into law.
In other false alarm news:
BALTIMORE, Md.: The Baltimore City Council is reconsidering its recently enacted burglar alarm fee after a rash of angry e-mails, letters and phone calls.
The council passed in April 2002 a law that added an annual $20 registration fee for security systems and fines for repeated false alarms. On Nov. 24, Councilwoman Helen L. Holton introduced a bill to make the fee a one-time charge instead of annual.
Also, businesses would continue to pay the yearly fee and anyone would face fines for repeated false alarms. “The outcry has been so strong from the citizens of Baltimore,” Holton told the Baltimore Sun.
However, other Baltimore city officials warn the move will cost the city $3 million when they say the Baltimore Police Department is spending about $5 million a year responding to false alarms.
GAINESVILLE, Fla.: City commissioners in Gainesville, Fla., have drafter an ordinance creating a fine for false burglar alarms.
Gainesville Fire Chief Richard Williams told radio station WRUF that firefighters are wasting their time going to false alarms and putting people in danger by running through red lights. He says the goal of the ordinance would be to give businesses and homeowners an incentive to upgrade their alarm systems.
Williams says the ordinance could be in place by December.
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