City plans wider use of fines for false alarm calls - East Valley Tribune: Mesa

City plans wider use of fines for false alarm calls

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Posted: Sunday, February 19, 2012 8:26 am

Mesa is moving to close a loophole that lets security system owners avoid fines when police respond to false alarms at their homes.

The city only levies fines today for alarm owners who get an alarm permit from police, but Mesa estimates 40 percent of security system owners are not registered.

That creates a big loophole because the city doesn't require security system owners to register.

The change would let police cite alarm owners $50 for the first violation and up to $400 for repeat offenses. Police estimate the new ability to fine will bring in $300,000 a year.

Mesa's City Council will vote on the change Feb. 27.

The likely change comes after a police study showed alarm calls are the third-highest type of service call. The city also found 98 percent of security system activations are false alarms. Mesa logged 11,247 alarm activations in the previous fiscal year, with all but 229 of them false calls.

The cost of responding to alarms last year was $654,310, but only half of that was recovered through fines.

Police send letters to security system owners who have false alarms but aren't registered. About 200 letters go out a month, said Mesa police Detective Steve Berry. About 20 percent of false alarms are from people who do not have a permit.

Police expect the expanded ability to fine alarm owners will generate enough money to recover their response costs. Also, the city would require alarm companies to educate customers and inform police when systems are installed or renewed. The city is not looking to require alarm registration at this time.

The changes have been supported by the Security Industry Alarm Coalition, a national industry association.

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