False Alarm Reduction
The Informant - Newsletter
Beat The Burglar - Newsletter
False alarms have become an enormous concern for law enforcement agencies everywhere. Millions of dollars and man-hours are spent chasing “burglars” which turn out to be nothing more than floating birthday balloons, unrestricted pets, or papers falling from fax machines.
We understand that by using your alarm system, you’re looking out for those you care about. The purpose behind the Ordinance is not to make money. In fact, in one year, police responses to alarm related calls can cost the City over $70,000 - yet cost-recovery measures amount to less than half that amount.
With hopes to alleviate the false alarm problem within our community, the City adopted Municipal Code Chapter 9.38 in January of 2000, which governs all Burglary & Robbery Alarm Systems within the city limits.
Fact: Alarm-Related calls in Redding have dropped by 21% since the inception of the False Alarm Reduction Program.
Fact: At least 4% of all alarm calls for police service are caused by mechanical problems.
Fact: Less than 10% of all alarm calls are related to legitimate criminal activity.
Highlights from Municipal Code Chapter 9.38
- An alarm system permit must be obtained and maintained for every alarm system within the city -- regardless of monitoring status. There is no fee to obtain this permit.
- Any alarm system user determined to be operating an alarm system with out proper registration shall be subject to penalty fees of $50-$250 per incident.
- Any alarm company determined to have installed and/or monitored an alarm system without proper registration shall be subject to penalty fees of $100-$250 dollars per incident.
- Any alarm system which accumulates four or more false alarms within a consecutive 365-day period shall be subject to penalty fees ranging from $65-$260 for every incident.
- The phrase “false alarm” applies to any alarm where there is no justification for an emergency response, meaning there is no felony (or felony-in-commission) present.
To read all of Municiple Code Chapter 9.38, you will be taken to the Preface page. From there, select Title 9 HEALTH AND SAFETY, then Chapter 9.38 BURGLARY AND ROBERY ALARM SYSTEM*. Go there to read it now.
Frequently Asked Alarm-Related Questions
- “Isn’t it the responsibility of my alarm company to make sure that all the proper permits are obtained?”
Not necessarily. The Ordinance will hold both the alarm user and the alarm company responsible for obtaining permits, though alarm companies will be billed at a higher rate.
- “Do I have to get a permit if I install my alarm myself?”
Yes. Every alarm system – whether or not it’s monitored – in the City of Redding is required to have a permit. There is NO fee to obtain a permit, and it’s as simple as filling out a piece of paper. Having a permit will allow police officers to notify you or your representative if there is ever any sort of emergency at your home/office.
- “I’ve had my alarm for 20 years. Why wasn’t I told I need a permit before?”
Some alarm companies work much more closely with the police department than others. Alarm companies who have had business in Redding for awhile should have informed you of the local requirements; however, many alarm companies have customers in numerous areas, and it can be difficult to keep track of every ordinance in every area. The bottom line is that all alarm users have a responsibility to make sure that their system is legal – similar to how the owner of a car must make sure that the registration and insurance forms are filled out and submitted on time.
- “If the alarm does its job and scares off a prowler who’s trying to break in, why should I be billed? How is that a false alarm?”
If someone tries to break in, there will typically be some evidence of tampering: pry marks around a door, a torn or removed screen, a broken window, etc. If there isn’t any such evidence, police have to assume that the cause of the alarm is unknown…which means it’s a false alarm.
If your windows and doors wiggle enough to set off your alarm, you need to either tighten up security, or have your alarm’s sensitivity adjusted.
- “Does it matter which alarm company I choose?”
Selecting an alarm company should be like any other big decision you make. Don’t be pressured into “limited time only” deals unless you know that the product – and the service! – is exactly what you’re looking for. Many alarm companies try to get your business by claiming that their “special offer” cannot be beaten, but there are a LOT of alarm companies out there. Some use better equipment, some provide more personal service, and unfortunately, some seem to make a sale and disappear overnight. Feel free to shop around, and make sure that the alarm system you are buying is going to meet your needs.
- “What’s really the big deal about a few alarms going off at my house year? That’s what the police are for!”
Having false alarms is like having a car that starts less than 10% of the time. Less than 10% of all alarm calls are related to legitimate criminal activity. Consider this: if officers are out checking an alarm that was set off by someone's cat, they can’t be across town responding to a traffic accident or a domestic violence call. Where do you want the police when you have a legitimate emergency?