After Brookhaven Police responded to more than 4,000 false alarms in the city last year, the council is taking measures to reduce that number – by making the security companies pay for them.
The City Council approved Nov. 28 an ordinance that will require security companies to pay fines for false alarms rather than making businesses and homeowners pay the fines. The Brookhaven measure follows the city of Sandy Springs taking the same approach earlier this year of targeting security companies rather than homeowners or business owners for false alarms.
The ordinance also requires security companies to obtain a city permit to install an alarm system. The ordinance goes into effect Jan. 1.
The council voted unanimously to give security companies two warnings and then implement fines on the third and following false alarms.
The fines are $25 for the third false alarm, $125 each for the fourth and fifth false alarm, and $250 each for the sixth and successive false alarms. An appeals process is also in place as part of the ordinance.
At a Nov. 14 work session, Chief Gary Yandura reported the police department in 2016 responded to 4,145 false alarms and estimated that it cost the city $194,815 responding to false alarms between July 31, 2016 and July 31, 2017.
“Basically we’re just acting as security guards for these alarm companies,” Yandura told the council.
Yandura pointed to Sandy Springs’ recent ordinance that fines the security companies after no significant reduction in false alarms was found after first going after homeowners and business owners.
You have to wonder what the “unintended consequences” will be from this action. The monitoring companies are all faced with the fact that a portion of their customers are dim-bulbs who don’t properly secure their entrance doors and such, leading to higher rates of false alarms.
My current provider calls my cell phone to inform me that the alarm has gone off. Presumably, if they can’t contact me, they call The Law, who races out only to find that the family cat has knocked another vase off of the mantle. So, the City fines the alarm company, who is then left to figure out how to collect from the customer. The customer gets irritated and blames the monitoring company and moves on to another company once the contract has elapsed. Meanwhile, the cat is blissfully asleep on the mantle.
Under the old arrangement, the customer got the fine and was motivated to get their alarm fixed, take stuff off the mantle or simply leave the system off. After all, the sign in the front yard is probably the most reliable component in the alarm system anyway.
Presumably, this is an attempt at dealing with the emergence of a number of cut-rate alarm system available at your local Home Depot or the internet. Given their general character, there is no “company” as such, or they may be in another state or country, making the collection of fines a challenging matter.
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