Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Alarm ordinance enacted

Last week, the Lincoln City Council enacted a new ordinance on false alarms--a piece of legislation that had been in the pipeline for well over a year. Modelled on Omaha's ordinance, the new law creates a system of fees for excess false alarms, replacing the current criminal citation that a business or homeowner receives when they have more than 4 false alarms in a 12 month period.

The new ordinance has a delayed effective date of July 1, 2010. We will be working in the next few months to set in place the infrastructure that will be necessary to effectively enforce this new law. Several changes will take place: alarms must be registered (both business and residential), so that system will have to be established; we will have to come up with a mechanism for handling billing and accounts receivable, since the fees will go to the City; and we will need to tweak our system for tracking false alarms, since the new ordinance replaces a rolling 12 month period with a fixed two-year registration period.

Although false alarms are comparatively low and have been falling steadily in Lincoln (3,279 in 2008, and they will be even lower this year), I predict that the enactment of this ordinance, will cause another drop. My hope is that false alarms can be reduced without negatively impacting our ability to catch burglars in the act.


JIM J said...

I find that I often have a "false alarm"
All that work rushing to the bath room, only to find an escaping pocket of air. The winter time, when it is cold, makes this quite an operation. Layers of coveralls and long unders take time to peal back. On top of it all you want to fine false alarms? All the work to get to the toilet and poof, a puff of air!

Kelsey Soukup said...

The city of McCook also has a yearly "alarm fee". I just sent off the bill for payment for one of our sites located there. You could probably get some ideas from them too.

Dave said...

I have a bad feeling about this. What I foresee happening is businesses/residentials having false alarms and being fined.

So they get tired of the fines for false alarms and either don't set the alarm or have it removed altogether. Then I see an increase in crime.

Remember, every action results in a reaction. I know LPD and LSO chase a lot of false alarms, but there has to be a better method, I just wish I knew what it was.

I remember my security days, I was on a night patrol that responded to Wells Fargo alarms, and they kept me hopping with false alarms sometimes.

How will this work during/following a thunderstorm Chief? Will these be subject to false alarm fines?

Tom Casady said...


That's the same thing that worries me. There are, however, six fee false alarms in the two-year registration period, so hopefully that will minimize the negative effect. What I'd really like is something that motivates the unmotivated to actually pay attention to training their employees (family members), troubleshooting their installation problem, and so forth--without alienating those alarm users that are already motivated, just frustrated by technical or personnel problems they are trying their best to resolve.

Anonymous said...

I have to wonder what kind of security system Arrrrg has on his pirate ship?
Gun Nut

Anonymous said...

Business owners and homeowners need to make sure their hardware is properly installed and that they don't do stupid things like hang banners where airflow will move them and trigger a motion detector circuit. Managers need to train employees to properly operate the system, and homeowners need to do the same with their family members.

If your business or home has an alarm system, it's your moral responsibility to do everything you can to avoid a false alarm, because FAs can cause finite police and/or fire resources to be dispatched to your FA, when they could be seriously needed elsewhere.

Alarms are great, and I wish that more little strip-mall businesses had them, to deter those who break in for the opening cash in the till. I think more residences that are unoccupied on a regular basis and at regularly scheduled times should have alarms.

However, your negligent FA could cause someone else to be hurt of killed, just because you're too lazy or cheap to have the bugs worked out of your hardware installation, or to train your employees/family to operate that hardware properly.

ARRRRG!!!! said...

I just have a dog for security. I guess I should upgrade.

Anonymous said...

ARRRRG!!!!, I would keep the one you have. That upgrade doesn't look like it has a leg to stand on.

Enzo said...

Jim J--
If I didn't know better, I might suspect you as being one of the first shift narcotics officers. There are several of them that are still greatly amused by these kinds of things even well into their 40's.


Anonymous said...

amused by these kinds of things ..what things you cut the thought off...Humor?

Anonymous said...

"The new ordinance also would change the fines to fees, so rather than going to the school district, the fees would go to city coffers to help offset police costs."
Sounds to me like the school district is the loser, in this deal...or am I missing something here? They are an entity that can least afford to lose any more money.
Has there been any backlash from the schools about this 'fines to fees' ordinance? Any comment from anyone?

Marco Abel said...

What bothers me about the ordinance is that the failure of some people punishes the rest who have never had a false alarm. What I dodn't understand is why those who repeatedly are responsible for the police to respond to false alarm are not billed for the cost (after a small number of false alarms has been exceeded). I have owned my alarm for 6 years and as best as I recall have never had a false alarm, and yet now I have to pay a few my actions (or lack thereof) were not responsible for incuring (i.e., higher police operating cost, risk to police officers, etc.). I am not someone who rails against big government, as I do believe that there are many aspects for which we need government to oversee, etc. But I have to say I fail to see the logic of this ordinance. It strikes me as an example of "privatize wealth, socialize cost" when it really should be a matter of privatizing cost (charge those responsible) and socialize wealth (leave those who use their alarms properly unpunished and allow them to save their money...