Burglaries continue to increase in many areas, requiring additional police response – and that costs money. Another solution is to reduce false alarms – and conventional wisdom says that charging fines for excessive false alarms is the best way to accomplish that goal. Here’s an update to my prior post on alarm permits and false alarm fines. The trend toward charging the homeowner is spreading from town to town, as budgets get tighter and local municipalities struggle to make ends meet. If your jurisdiction has not joined this movement yet, get ready: it’s probably just a matter of time.
Fair Lawn (New Jersey) is considering a new alarm management system with hopes of reducing the number of false alarms the police department responds to. ATB (Alarm Tracking & Billing)—a Colorado-based company which manages alarm systems for New Jersey municipalities including Rahway, Montclair, Englewood, Hillside, and Middle Township—gave an overview of its services to the Borough Council.
What’s the Problem?
Police Chief Erik Rose said at Tuesday night’s Borough Council work session that the point of contracting Fair Lawn’s alarm management to ATB would be to “pull some of the workload off borough employees,” because police officers have often responded “to the same businesses and the same homes over and over again, and nothing was ever done.” False alarms “are drawing officers away from other calls” and other important ways they should be serving residents, Rose added.
Non-Response with No Permit
The approach some jurisdictions take is for police not to respond if there is no alarm permit on file, and that’s been happening with increasing frequency (see this story from Utah). The Fair Lawn proposal, however, includes police response even if no permit for the alarm system.
What You Can Expect
How do most of these alarm registration programs work? Here is the scenario for a typical city’s alarm permit process:
- The jurisdiction requires you to register your alarm system with the police department. There is an annual fee – usually $25 to $30, which is billed to you, the homeowner. Your alarm company should make you aware of any local requirements, and assist you in the process
- The police then provide the homeowner with a permit number. This permit number is passed on to the alarm company, so that in the event of an alarm, the monitoring center can reference the homeowner’s permit number with each request for a dispatch. Without the permit number (as we have seen), the police may not respond.
- The registration also requires the homeowner to “accept” the jurisdiction’s false alarm fine structure. This varies quite a bit, with some cities allowing up to three false alarms per year – and some allowing none. The fines can also escalate with each false alarm: be sure to read the fine print.
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 nationwide leader for interactive, wireless home security, 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 permit, if you need one, and then we’ll work with you so your system works – when you need it to.