Police closer to cutting down on false alarm calls

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 9, 2002

City officials hope to eliminate security alarm systems that cry wolf.

In regular session Thursday, the Ironton City Council heard the second reading of an ordinance that, if passed, will impose service charges for repeated false alarms from residential and business' alarm systems.

Last year, the city received more than 365 false alarm calls. Under the new ordinance, Police Chief Bill Garland will maintain a separate log of all false alarms.

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A false alarm is defined in the ordinance as "any signal or message initiated and transmitted either automatically or manually through an alarm system to the city soliciting an emergency response by police personnel, when upon visual inspection by the responding

safety personnel, there is no evidence that theft, criminal trespassing, vandalism, unauthorized intrusion or an attempt to commit any of the foregoing, occurred and was the cause of the alarm."

Three or less false alarms a year would not incur a fee.

A service charge of $25 each would be charged for false alarms four through seven and $50 each for alarms eight to 12. More than 13 false alarms within a year would cost $100 per call.

The majority of the false alarms come from residences, not businesses, and many of them repeatedly go off for no reason, Mayor Bob Cleary said when the legislation was originally proposed.

Every time an alarm sounds, the city is obligated to respond and must stay until the alarm owner is contacted, Cleary said.

The responding officers must wait for a key holder to show up and then check the building thoroughly. This can take up to 30 minutes or much longer, Chief Garland said.

"I think it is a good ordinance," he said. "The majority of them are the same places over and over again.

"When it comes down to it, with our shortage of manpower, we can't afford to do it. It creates unsafe conditions for our officers and the public."

Garland said the city is not trying to make money from the service charges, and every benefit of the doubt will be given. The department only want to keep officers from responding to calls unnecessarily.

In other business:

--Mayor Cleary announced that the official closing on the Honeywell purchase has been delayed until Tuesday. It had been tentatively scheduled for today, but the property had to be re-platted and Gov. Bob Taft was unable to attend.

-- Council passed a resolution to place a replacement recreation levy on the Nov. 5 general election ballot. Darrell Fry of the Recreation Board recommended this action.

The current levy was passed for a five-year period and runs through 2003. This allows for it to be voted on before the old levy expires and would allow it to be voted on again next year if it didn't pass.

These funds provide and maintain the city's recreation services. The levy is basically the same as the one it would replace. This gives the voters the option, but has always been passed before, Mayor Cleary said. Michael Caldwell/The Ironton Tribune