Increased Fines for False Fire Alarms Vetoed in Maryland County


A bill that would have raised fines considerably for false fire alarms in Harford County (Md.) was vetoed by County Executive David Craig, in a move that overturned a 6-1 County Council vote, according to a newspaper report.

Craig wrote in a message accompanying his veto that there is no data to demonstrate that increases in fines and penalties would act as a deterrent, according to the Baltimore Sun.Craig’s decision was met with opposition by other city officials. Councilman Dion Guthrie, who introduced the bill, told the newspaper: “I read his veto message, but I don’t see any substance at all. To say that it is not a deterrent is ridiculous. All fines are a deterrent, at all levels, or they wouldn’t have them.”

In July, Guthrie introduced the false fire alarm bill along with another bill aimed at raising fines for false alarms to the Harford County Sheriff’s Office. Both bills passed the council with 6-1 votes, with Councilman Richard C. Slutzky, who had wanted an exemption for schools, the lone dissenter, according to the newspaper.

In his veto message, Craig said there has been a 62 percent reduction in false alarms in Harford County during the past two years, and that the county is on target to reduce false alarms by another 9 percent this year.

The increase in civil fines for false fire alarms would have been raised to $100 for the second violation within a year, $500 for the third, and $1,000 for each subsequent violation in that 12-month period. Those fines could still go up if the council overrides the veto.

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