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New Ordinance Imposes Penalties for Frequent False Alarm Calls to Police and Fire

Sandy Springs approved an ordinance that will charge a penalty for false alarms, which make up 96 percent of citizen initiated calls.

 

City Council members approved a false alarm ordinance on Tuesday that will call on residents and business owners to register their systems with the City of Sandy Springs. Penalties will also be imposed for excessive false alarms.

The ordinance could take 150 days to implement. In the meantime the city will educate residents, businesses and alarm companies on the new ordinance and hire a company to help with registration via the Internet. 

“Public safety officials need to know where those alarms are,” said Sharon Kraun, city spokesperson.

False alarms have become an increasing problem in Sandy Springs. During an October City Council meeting, Police Chief Terry Sult said, “So often when we get to an alarm, we get there and we have no one to contact.”

Sult proposed the ordinance at the Oct. 19 meeting. “This would give our 911 center the information to provide to the officer when they are out at the scene,” he said.

According to the Police Chief, 20 percent or up to 46,000 calls that police respond to each year, come from citizens. Ninety-six percent of those calls are false alarms. That’s about $150,000 annually.

“That’s an awful lot of time we have spent answering calls, and people are not taking accountability or responsibility for either correcting their alarms or using their alarms properly,” Sult said

There will be no registration fee under the ordiance, but if police or fire responds to a false alarm and the system has not been registered, the resident or business will be charged $100. Penalties for excessive false alarm calls will range from $50 to $500.

If an alarm goes off and is deactivated before police or fire arrives, no penalty will be assessed.

The police department will allow two false alarm calls without penalty. The fire department will allow one.

Penalties for false fire alarms are more costly. The reason, Kraun says, is a false police alarm may bring a single squad car to the scene; a fire alarm could bring fire trucks, ambulances and other equipment.

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