False Alarm



There's no need to be alarmed.

City Council members in the public safety and homeland security committee discussed proposed changes to the city's alarm ordinance, including a measure that would require home security companies to submit a list of new alarm installations to the city.

"One of the things that's unclear in the current ordinance is if someone is operating an alarm without a permit," said council member Kemp Conrad. "Before, we would not necessarily have known if someone did that."

Home owners are required to pay a small fee and obtain a permit to operate an alarm system. Under the proposed ordinance, the alarm companies would give the homeowners all the forms needed to get the permit at the time of installation. If the resident didn't register the alarm in 30 days, they would be contacted by the Metro Alarm Office and could be indicated a lower priority call should their alarm go off.

Part of the reason for the amendment is to curb false alarm calls.

Not everyone was happy with the changes. Councilman Joe Brown said that he would file a lawsuit against the city if he was a citizen.

"We're constantly coming up with these fees and fines," he said. "Somewhere we have to draw the line."

Conrad noted that the amendment didn't change the current fee.

"We have a whole office dedicated to managing it. That why there is a fee," he said. "We're not increasing it because the office operates at a surplus."

Council member Barbara Swearengen Ware had a problem with something that would rank unregistered alarm or repeated false alarm calls a lower priority for first responders.

"I would rather see you fine them after a certain number of times. Putting people on a 'do not respond' list is a dangerous path to go down," she said. "We can't justify that."

City officials clarified that police would respond, but the timing would be dictated by call volume.

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