June 5, 2012
Homeowners Balk at Alarm System Registration Fees and Stiff Penalties
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. But some homeowners are pushing back at some aspects of these new laws: 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 Akron, Ohio.
Residents with home security systems believe it's unfair for Akron to charge a fee for the right to protect their families. For years, it's been a little-known law in the city of Akron; however, more and more, the law is now being enforced. Residents are now being ordered to pay a $25 licensing fee for the right to have a home security system, or face a fine or jail time.
Homeowner Feels Insulted
Carol Caldwell has paid more than $30 a month for a security system in her home for the past six years, but last month she was stunned to find the Akron licensing fee in her mail box. "I was shocked, you got to be kidding," said Caldwell. "I need to buy a license for protection?" Caldwell showed NewsChannel5 the notice she received from the Akron Department of Finance, ordering her to pay the $25 alarm licensing fee, or she'd be subject to a $500 fine and six months in jail. "I'm insulted, I don't agree that they take my money," said Caldwell. "There are seniors and unemployed people, we can't afford these additional costs."
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 enforced them very well.
Old Ordinance Now Being Enforced
NewsChannel5 confirmed the Akron Emergency Alarm Ordinance was passed back in 1991, but city officials admit it has been more strictly enforced in recent years. Akron Treasurer Steve Fricker told NewsChannel5 enforcement of the law is not a ploy to generate city revenue. "It's just to ensure that our safety forces are not responding to a number of false alarms," said Fricker. "To keep safety forces responding to the calls that they need to respond to, in order to protect the citizens of Akron."
How it Works
Fricker told NewsChannel5 alarm companies that service Akron citizens are required to turn over their lists of licensed alarm users. Homeowners are required to pay a first time $25 fee and a $15 renewal every three years. Business owners and residents who rent must pay the $15 renewal every year. Still, residents like Caldwell disagree with the recently enforced alarm licensing fee, and she's thinking about organizing a citizens’ fight against the fee. "Rebuke it, take it away, it needs to stop," said Caldwell. "If there are people abusing their alarm systems then deal with them. Don't punish us because we're trying to protect our families." Akron city officials said there are no plans to reverse the law, but said they are willing to listen to complaints from residents at city hall.
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, and video services) can make a tremendous difference in your favor. You also want 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). As the leader in wireless home security 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.