Scranton to Begin Charging for Multiple False Alarms

After more than a decade of inconsistent enforcement, the Police Department here is now cracking down on businesses and other properties where officers respond to more than three false alarms during a 12-month period, according to a newspaper report.

Violators will be assessed $50 for the fourth false alarm, $100 for the fifth and $300 for each one after that, based on a graduated service fee schedule in an ordinance approved by the city council in July, the Scranton Times-Tribune reported.

Police Chief David Elliott told the newspaper the intent is to cut down on the number of false alarms so officers can engage in more proactive police work.

“It will bring in some funds for the city, but it’s more about freeing up officers and not tying them up on calls they should not be going on because of problems with alarms and faulty alarm systems,” Elliot said. “I think people will be paying a lot more attention to the maintenance of their alarm systems.”

Under a new procedure, an officer responding to an alarm will document the incident on a notification form. Each form will include information about what the officer found at the property, weather conditions and whether it is a “chargeable” false alarm, the newspaper reported.

The officer will leave one copy of the notification for the property owner and keep one for himself. A third will be submitted to a Police Department clerk who will be responsible for managing a false alarm database and billing the violators.

The ordinance enacted by council last summer amended a false alarm statute that has been on the books since 1995.

Chief Elliott said individual officers who happened to respond to more than three false alarms at a single location have been writing citations, but the department lacked a simple system to track all of the alarms. The database will remedy that issue, he told the newspaper.

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