All across the US, more cities, town and counties are implementing alarm registration and false alarm fines. That means you, the wise and enlightened homeowner with a monitored alarm system, need to make sure your system is registered anywhere it’s required, and that you are doing everything you can to avoid false alarms. Municipal managers are often behind these new laws, for budgetary reasons. However, even if the fees appear reasonable, as is often the case, the penalties are getting a lot of attention – as demonstrated by this report from Beaumont, Texas.
It could cost some Beaumont residents more for false home security alarms if the city changes a years-old ordinance in coming months. The Beaumont Police Department has had 5,716 alarm calls since Jan. 1 . Of those calls, only 1,933 were for an actual crime or emergency. The rest were false alarms or nuisance calls.
How Beaumont Stacks Up
Beaumont allows residents to have up to eight false burglar alarms in a 12 month period before a $50 fee is imposed for each false alarm call after that. That ordinance is a bit too lenient, according to state law. Debbie Ulmer, secretary of The Texas Burglary and Fire Alarm Association, said state law allows for individuals to have three false alarm calls before being fined. After the seventh call, the state allows authorities to choose if they respond to the call or not.
Background on the Issue
The issue has grown as more people install security systems. In the past decade, the number of security-alarm systems in homes and businesses doubled from about 17 million to 34 million, according to Stan Martin, executive director of the Security Industry Alarm Coalition, a national industry group. The Texas-based coalition formed in 2003 to address the high rate of false alarms. But this homeowner echoes a common complaint: many jurisdictions have implemented alarm registration and false alarm fine laws, but may not have thought through the process very well.
How Much Would the New Fines Be?
Kyle Hayes, Beaumont's city manager, said he has been working on creating a new ordinance for false alarms and plans on proposing the ordinance to the city council in a few months. Hayes' proposal includes changing the number of nuisance calls the city will allow an individual to have, the service fee and the reinstatement fee. Hayes said he could not discuss the proposed changes, however, because he has not shared his ordinance suggestions with the city council.
Beaumont Police Officer Weighs In: Alarm Response is Necessary
Matthew Morrow, a patrol officer for the Beaumont Police Department, said changing the ordinance is not likely to decrease the number of false alarm calls, but he does think it could help recoup costs of sending an officer to the call. Morrow said a false alarm is the best kind to get. He said he still treats every alarm call like it is real because "complacency will kill you." Morrow added that alarms serve their purpose, stopping crimes from happening and alerting authorities to emergencies.
Of course, once your alarm system is registered, your best protection against false alarm fines is to reduce the false alarms themselves. That’s where having advanced features (such as notifications, remote arming/disarming, mobile apps, and video services) can make a tremendous difference in your favor.
You also want alarm equipment that is tested and proven for false alarm reduction: demand UL-listed equipment, and be sure to ask your company about CP01 compliance for your system’s ease of use (required in some states – like Texas!). As the leader in wireless home security systems and the #1 ranked alarm company in the US, FrontPoint knows all about false alarm reduction. We use GE Security equipment, which meets the most stringent requirements. Plus, we’ll help you get your system registered, if required, and then we’ll work with you so your system works – when you need it to.