F’ville Council expected to approve false alarm ordinance, institute fines

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It looks as if Fayetteville will get an ordinance aimed at reducing the number of false alarm calls. The City Council on Thursday will hear the second reading of the proposed ordinance and will likely adopt it. The measure also looks to reduce law enforcement costs associated with answering the false alarms since they constituted 80 percent of all alarm calls in 2011.

Police Chief Steve Heaton in advocating for the ordinance said recently that false alarms unnecessarily utilize personnel and fuel to respond to verify whether or not an alarm is legitimate. The downturn in the economy has added to the need to reduce fuel costs and maximize personnel resources, Heaton said.

Heaton in making the case for the ordinance said the statistical breakdown for 2011 showed 2,066 alarm calls in the city with 1,656, or 80 percent, being false alarms. Similarly, 75 percent of the alarm calls in 2010 were false alarms as were 80 percent of total alarm calls in 2009, Heaton said.

The first false alarm during the permit year carries no charge. Penalties totaling $50 will apply with the second and third false alarm calls, $75 for the fourth call, $100 for the fifth call, $125 for the sixth, $150 for the seventh, $200 for the eighth, $250 for the ninth false alarm call and $300 for the tenth call during the permit year.

The proposed ordinance includes several requirements. Among those are a no-cost alarm registration, no charge for the first false alarm, the option to take an “alarm-user class” in lieu of paying a fine for the second false alarm, a non-criminal civil penalty and and appeal process.

Users will be required to furnish alarm companies with two contact numbers so that 911 dispatchers will have two avenues of contact.

The proposed ordinance applies to all alarm users, whether residential, businesses or government buildings, outfitted with an alarm system that generates a signal to which law enforcement is requested to respond.