County set to crack down on false alarms
summit daily news
SUMMIT COUNTY ” Last week an intrusion alarm sounded at Fiesta Jalisco in Frisco, which was unoccupied after recently closing its doors for good.
Frisco Police responded and attempted to contact the owner’s attorney, who supposedly had the keys to enter the building. The attorney was out of the country and it took officers hours to locate the Realtor who could get inside the building and silence the noise, said Sgt. Tina White.
Meanwhile, residents in the building were suffering through the nuisance.
“These people were sitting in their condo units above the restaurant listening to the alarm go off all day long,” White said.
In the end, there was no break-in at the building.
According to a new ordinance in effect across the county, the business will get a warning letter about the false alarm. If the business has a second false alarm in 2006, the owners will incur a $75 fine. A third alarm will cost $150, and the fourth and subsequent alarms will set the owner back $300 per incident, according to the ordinance.
On Jan. 1, the county and towns began enforcing the new rule, which is designed to keep abundant and time-consuming false alarms at bay.
Last year, the Summit County Communications Center logged 2,162 alarms. Between Jan. 1 and Jan. 17, dispatchers received 79 false alarms, or about five per day.
In addition to the fees, after three false alarms at one residence or business in one year, the ordinance allows police to disregard the alert, said Summit County alarm administrator Chad Watson.
“It’s not necessarily an automatic cutoff after three (alarms),” Watson noted. “It goes to the officer’s discretion whether he wants to respond or not.”
Watson also said if there are clear signs of a break-in, or a crime in progress, police will always show up.
White said the Frisco Police Department, which has responded to six false alarms this year, will continue to show up without checking how many unjustified incidents there have been at a particular address.
Although, with response times that can take anywhere from 10 minutes to all day as in the Fiesta Jalisco case, the situations can be a burden on the department.
In Frisco, one officer, a sergeant, a detective and the chief are on duty during the day, but staff levels are lower in off-hours, and checking on false alarms takes coverage off the streets.
“If we get alarms ” which we do sometimes ” late at night or in the early morning hours, you’re down to one officer,” White said.
White said the department prioritizes calls and will always respond to the most serious incident first.
Both White and Watson said it’s too early to tell whether the new ordinance has reduced the number of false alarms, although Watson said awareness of the problem has grown.
The money collected by the county for annual registration is used to pay Watson’s salary, who manages the program.
Nicole Formosa can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 13625, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All Summit County property owners with alarms need to register their system with their alarm companies for a $50 fee. If you have questions on the new ordinance, contact your alarm company or Summit County alarm administrator Chad Watson at (970) 668-2970.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.
Now more than ever, your financial support is critical to help us keep our communities informed. Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.
Your donation will be used exclusively to support quality, local journalism.