Milwaukee Council to Hear Alternatives to Verified Response

MILWAUKEE

An alderman with the Milwaukee Common Council says he is
just one vote short for his proposal to increase fines for
false alarms that is being offered as an alternative to
Milwaukee police’s plan to go to verified response.
However, the council doesn’t have the power to change
Police Chief Nannette Hegerty’s decision to initiate a
verified response policy on Sept. 19.

Alderman Tony Zielinski says he has gained six co-sponsors
for his proposal for a $150 fine for a first false alarm,
$300 for a second and $450 for each false alarm after that
within a calendar year. However, alarm companies in
Milwaukee are not happy with an addition to the proposal
where alarm companies would be forced to pay the fines
instead of their customers.

“It would be similar to saying [when]we ticketed someone
for speeding, we’re going to fine the car dealer,” Mike
Horgan, president of the Wisconsin Burglar and Fire Alarm
Association (WBFAA), told the Milwaukee Journal-
Sentinel
.

The proposal will be presented to the council’s Public
Safety Committee on Sept. 2. Police and alarm industry
officials will present their cases, though there is not
expected to be a public comment period.

In addition, another alderman has introduced a proposal
that will also be introduced at the Sept. 2 meeting that
gets tougher on alarm companies. Alderman Bob Bauman’s
ordinance would remove an alarm company’s license if it
can’t show it has the staffing to send someone to confirm a
break-in before calling police. The committee will likely
vote on both proposals Sept. 9.

Hegerty announced July
16
that as of Sept. 19, Milwaukee police would no
longer respond to burglar alarms unless they were verified
by the alarm company. The move would make Milwaukee the
largest U.S. city to switch to a total verified response
policy.

Under Milwaukee law, the council doesn’t have the power to
reverse Hegerty’s decision and the most they can do is put
public pressure on the police chief to reverse her
decision. However, there is the possibility that if both
proposals before the council pass and there is no reversal
in the plan of the police, alarm companies in Milwaukee
could see the triple hit of verified response, increased
false alarm fees and the risk of losing their license if
they aren’t capable of verifying the alarms in person.

The National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA) is
asking its members to provide logistical and financial
support to the WBFAA in its efforts to halt verified
response in Milwaukee. Horgan says for anyone looking to
help to call (414) 276-9232 or (877) 230-5110 or E-mail HREF=mailto:[email protected]>[email protected].

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