Los Angeles Council to Vote on New Alarm Policy

LOS ANGELES

The long process of determining a new alarm ordinance for Los Angeles is nearing its conclusion, as the city’s council plans to consider and likely vote Sept. 21 on a proposal that includes higher false alarm fines and a form of verified response after a second false alarm within a year. The proposal includes a $115 fine for a first false alarm in a calendar year – which goes up $50 for each false alarm thereafter – and make permanent a temporary police policy where all alarms after a second false dispatch are broadcasted and filed, but won’t be responded to unless verified by someone at the site of the alarm.

The fines are steeper for alarm users without a permit – $215 for a first false alarm and an additional $100 for each false dispatch after that. The new ordinance will include an amnesty for alarm users where those facing a false alarm fine can have it waived if they purchase or renew the $30 alarm permit.

The proposal needs a majority vote of the council and the approval of the mayor to go into law.

Los Angeles has spent nearly three years trying to determine a new alarm ordinance that includes policies to combat false alarms.

The city’s police commission first considered enacting a verified response policy – where officers wouldn’t respond to a burglar alarm unless it was verified at the source – in April 2002. The commission, which oversees the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) approved the policy in January 2003, but was vetoed by the city council.

A task force formed by the council and Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn in the Spring of 2003 that included members of the Greater Los Angeles Security Alarm Association (GLASAA) and city leaders came up with proposals in the Spring of 2003 for a compromise policy that had verified response after a second false alarm and increased fees.

The LAPD was expected to put the compromise policy into effect last Nov. 1 but was delayed after council members expressed concerns the city’s residents weren’t ready for it. The policy was allowed to go into effect on Jan. 1 on a temporary basis while the council drafted a permanent revision to the city’s alarm ordinance, which after months in committee will be heard by the full council Sept. 21.

GLASAA President Mark Sepulveda said in a statement that the current proposal goes excessively beyond the task force’s recommendations for fines and complains that the city council committees have done little to work with GLASAA or the industry on the plan.

“The draft ordinance … will result in punitive fines that will generate millions of dollars beyond any reasonable use of resources by the City,” Sepulveda says. “The task force understood the purpose of the fines and penalties was to encourage responsible use by the citizens, not revenue for the City or LAPD.  We are concerned that the punitive nature of the fine will deter citizens from utilizing their alarm system.”

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