Alarm ordinances changes in Sandy Springs have led to confusion in Brookhaven, where one alarm company sent letters to residents inaccurately saying the city will no longer respond to security alarm calls, officials said.
“In short, Brookhaven is responding to all security alarm calls, and statements to the contrary [are] false,” city spokesperson Burke Brennan said.
Brookhaven has implemented some similar requirements to Sandy Springs’ controversial alarm ordinance. Alarm companies register users and pay the false alarm fines, but evidence of an intruder is not required.
But in Sandy Springs, video, audio or in-person verification must be submitted along with the alarm call, under a new policy starting June 19. Sandy Springs also uses a “no-response” list for repeat false-alarm offenders.
Brookhaven Police Maj. Don Chase said he think some of the confusion may be caused by the differences between Sandy Springs’ and Brookhaven’s alarm ordinances. Brookhaven’s ordinance was modeled after the Sandy Springs version. But Brookhaven has not taken the extra step Sandy Springs has of requiring video, audio or in-person verification before responding.
“That may be part of the confusion,” Chase said.
Brookhaven requires companies to make state-mandated two calls to the customer before calling 911. The ordinance also requires companies to register all users and to pay false alarm fines instead of the customer. The city also has a “no-response” list for customers who continually cause false alarms, but no one is on the list, Chase said.
“If it’s a nuisance, it allows us to put them on a list. However, we don’t want to use it like that,” he said. “For homeowners, we’re always going to respond.”
Brookhaven put its ordinance on hold until Sandy Springs won a lawsuit from the security alarm industry last year. Since fully implementing in January, the ordinance has brought down false alarm numbers slightly, Chase said. He believes using the stronger measures like the no-response list could bring it down further, but the city doesn’t “want to go that route.”
Chase said the city is currently considering requiring verification, but did not rule out ever implementing it.
“I believe that verification by video in this day and age is very doable,” he said. “I’m not going to say it’s not in the future because I think it’s going to be everywhere eventually.”
In the latest change to Sandy Springs’ ordinance, the city will allow video and audio verification to be submitted within 24 hours after dispatching police because technology that would make evidence available instantly to emergency responders is not widespread yet.