Sandy Springs has added new requirements for alarm companies to alert customers they are on a no-response list and fines for not doing so as it again tweaks its false alarm ordinance.
The alarm industry’s lawsuit against the ordinance, which puts alarm companies, rather than individual customers, on the hook for false alarms, was recently dismissed by a federal court. The ordinance was passed last year, and adding notification requirements has been part of the plan since then. The new requirements were passed by the City Council at its Dec. 18 meeting.
The city’s attempt to crack down on false burglar and fire alarms with a has shaken the security industry as a possible national model. The city says it gets thousands of alarm calls a year, of which about 99 percent are false, tying up police officers and firefighters and costing enormous sums of money.
The core of the new ordinance is a system of fining security systems who service the alarm systems, rather than residents and business owners who use them, for repeated false alarms. The city says the new ordinance already has significantly reduced false-alarm responses, due to both fines and alarm companies canceling a police or fire dispatch after an initial call.
If a location has unpaid false-alarm fines or other excessive false-alarm issues, the city can place it a “non-response” list, meaning 911 dispatchers will ignore calls generated by its alarm system, but will still respond to direct calls from a person there.
One concern from residents and City Council members is making sure they know when a location has been placed on the list. The new requirements are an attempt at doing that.
The ordinance, which was passed unanimously, the alarm company must notify customers by U.S. Postal Service certified mail and copy the city on the letter within seven days of being placed on the list.
If an alarm company does not notify the customer, it will be fined $100 each time, according to the ordinance.
In addition to this, City Councilmember Chris Burnett said the city should look into sending information to alarm customers about its ordinance and requirements when an alarm is registered.
Other new requirements will go into effect next year. Earlier this year, the city added a requirement for alarm companies to provide direct confirmation that a burglar alarm call is a real crime – with audio or video devices or in person – before calling 911. That provision takes effect June 19 of next year.