Dunwoody Readies a Crackdown on False Alarms

City Council heard the first reading of an ordinance Monday that would create a permit system and fine those who have repeated false alarms.

Dunwoody is set to adopt some rules around the thousands of alarms around the city that are set off most of the time when there is no emergency.

So far in 2012, there have been more than 2,000 alarm calls. Some 98 percent of them are false alarms, according to a city report.

Two officers respond to a possible emergencies in the city.

"If the officers are responding to false alarms they can't do other things," said Police Chief Billy Grogan to the council.

The city currently has no alarm ordinance. The proposal on the table would fine those who set off false alarm and collect permit fees to register alarms with the city.

The ordinance, which the council gave preliminary approval to Monday, would create a $15 registration fee and a graduated scale of fines for those who can't manage their alarms properly.

Under the current version of the regulations, two false alarms are freebies. The third would trigger a $50 civil penalty. Ten false alarms would cost $500.

The permits and fines are expected to be collected by a company selected by the city.

One issue in the ordinance raise some eyebrows from at least one councilmember. The ordinance, as it is written, would prevent officers from responding to the alarms of those who have had false alarms, been fined, and not paid their penalty.

"It causes me some heartburn that we wouldn't show up," said Denis Shortal.

The council also discussed permit fees that were different for businesses and residences.

The issue is expected to come back to council soon for a final vote. A fee schedule for the current version of the ordinance is attached to this article.





Rob September 11, 2012 at 02:04 PM
Dunwoody has finally found a way to pay for the $100,000 leak investigation fee`s...until they get sued for the police not showing up to a home where a real crime is being committed and the homeowner has to use the stand your ground law like Mr. Zimmerman did in self defense!
Matt Podowitz September 11, 2012 at 03:09 PM
I have three concerns regarding this proposed ordinance. First, the aforementioned provision that has officers not responding to households that have had false alarms. Second is that the permitting process and associated fines may discourage homeowners and renters from installing alarms and (more importantly) keeping their alarms armed regularly, especially when at home. Finally, the requirement that all alarm panels comply with a given standard may cause undue burden on homeowners as they are required to replace older alarm panels (and potentially related equipment such as keypads and sensors). There is no question that false alarms are a nuisance, however, regulating them in a way that decreases their frequency of installation or their use cannot serve the public interest.
Jason Massad September 11, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Thanks for your comment Matt. The council's first reading of this ordinance was Monday. I will make sure readers know when this comes up for a second reading, where there very well could be changes.
Enuff Govt Already September 11, 2012 at 09:29 PM
Another back door tax hike?
Enuff Govt Already September 12, 2012 at 10:02 PM
Another Q-Would only responding to alarms where people paid a special fee (tax) also create the issue of the police offering special treatment under the law? I know fire districts can but with police is it an all or nothing issue? And the arguement for the fee b/c it reduced false alarms; is that b/c fewer alarms are registered? and do crime stats also show a drop in burglaries? How does one keep alarm companies from changing the title of their alarms to "assault alarms" or "robbery alarms"? How would the police ignore a report or a crime like that? Just curious...


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