Fort Worth Puts Verified Response Plan on Hold

FORT WORTH, Texas

In the face of growing protests, city leaders in Fort Worth, Texas, have backed away from a verified response plan that would have sharply reduced police response to security alarms.

With a standing-room crowd looking on in its chambers during the Oct. 14 council session, the council sent the proposal back to its public safety committee for further review. In addition to the crowd at the council meeting, hundreds of residents called or E-mailed protesting the plan that would eliminate alarm permits and require police to respond only if an alarm was verified by an alarm company, a security guard, a resident or an eyewitness.

Fort Worth’s police department had recommended the plan to the city in response to what it says is a growing false alarm problem in Fort Worth. Mayor Mike Moncrief told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram after the council meeting that the protests played a role in the council’s decision to send the plan back to committee.

“We’ve got some more evaluating to do. This has caused some concern on the part of numerous residents,” says Moncrief, who adds that some action needs to be taken to deal with the false alarm problem. “This issue isn’t going to go away,” he says. “We’re still spending more than $3 million to answer calls where 99 percent are false. We’ll have to find some middle ground, but it won’t make everyone happy.”

The North Texas Alarm Association (NTAA) has been mounting a protest that has included ads in the local newspapers, but association leaders say they’re still open to working with the city. “The association is ready, willing and capable of sitting down with the council at any time,” NTAA President Nathan Bryant told the Star-Telegram.

In other false-alarm news, the city council in Seattle put off a vote on a false alarm bill in its Oct. 13 meeting, sending it back to its budget committee. The Seattle bill would shift fines paid for false alarms from the resident to alarm companies. Currently, residents pay $125 each time police respond to a false alarm.

The City Council in Ankeny, Iowa, will decide Oct. 20 whether to accept a false alarm ordinance that would require a $25 annual permit for burglar alarms and set fines for false alarms. The Central Iowa city’s police has proposed the move after it says all but one of the 1,090 alarm notifications it responded to last year were false. Mary Chase, a civilian supervisor with the Ankeny police, tells the Des Monies Register the proposal is based on guidelines provided by the National Burglary and Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA) and says the department worked to set a fee scale that is manageable for residents.

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