University Place Waits for Fixes for False-Alarm Calls


After the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department determined that 95 percent of the community alarms were false, University Place decided it wanted to tighten some of the rules that pertain to home and business alarm systems. Officials say, however, that they prefer to wait to overhaul what’s already on the books, which is a collection of controversial regulations adopted by Pierce County last year.

Since 1999, University Place has modeled its alarm rules after the county’s. One good reason for this is that University Place contracts with the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department for police protection.

In the past, there was no penalty fee but because of the high false alarm rate, the county has developed a new false alarm ordinance that, among other things, requires alarm companies to pay a $250 fee for the second false alarm in six months. In addition, they must register with the county. Unfortunately, the sheriff’s office failed to convince the County Council to require a neighbor, homeowner or private security company to verify that something’s amiss before they dispatch a deputy. Critics say that this invites crime and endangers residents.

As a short-term fix, the city has proposed an alarm ordinance that maintains the status quo, with the exception of a few changes. These changes include increasing the one-time fee to obtain a city alarm permit from $15 to $20. Those homeowners and businesses whose permits have been revoked for false alarms must pay the fee again if they wish to have another permit. In addition, alarm companies must provide the city with a list of customers.

Under the proposal, owners would still pay $50 for the second false alarm that police respond to in six months; $75 for the third; $100 for fourth or more. The University Place City Council is scheduled to discuss the proposal next month.

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