Wednesday, January 16, 2008

False Alarm?

I was absolutely flabbergasted when I saw the number of alarm calls made and the number of which were actual true alarms. Over 2500 calls all but 13 of which were false alarms.

That is a huge amount and a waste of taxpayer resources. I am glad the mayor and city council are addressing this issue in a common sense approach.

City considers ordinance about false alarms
By Chris Cobb: The Herald-Zeitung

After a dramatic spike in the amount of false security alarms set off in local homes and businesses over the last year, the city is trying to cut down on the amount of time its police officers and firefighters waste responding to them.The New Braunfels City Council approved the first reading of an ordinance Monday which will enact higher fees for alarm permits, and additionally charge residents and business owners for repeated false alarm calls.“Alarm systems have been a problem as long as I’ve lived here,” said New Braunfels Mayor Bruce Boyer. “It really became a burr under everybody’s saddle because it takes so much unnecessary time.”

Emergency officers responded to 2,531 alarms in the first 10 months of 2007, all but 13 of which were false. That’s a 40 percent increase over the more-than 1,800 false alarms in 2006, and amounted to an estimated taxpayer cost of more than $125,000 in wasted time.“Partnering with the citizens to reduce those calls helps us across the board to provide more effective and efficient services,” said New Braunfels Police Chief Ron Everett.

In addition, the costs for a false alarm going off will now be switched to an administrative fee rather than a municipal citation to keep from clogging up the court system.“Our municipal court is already busy with traffic and the other types of offenses,” Boyer said. “This is not something that people need to be trying to respond to a criminal case for; it truly is an everyday occurrence.”

The annual permit fee will be raised from $30 to $40 for residents, and from $30 to $50 for businesses.

Additionally, the civil service fee will charge $50 each for more than three, but less than seven false alarms in a 12-month period. They will cost $100 apiece after the seventh call.Boyer said the measure will give emergency officers more time to focus on the real needs of a growing city.“We’re not a town of 15-20,000 people anymore,” Boyer said. “We just need a better, more efficient way to address the problem.”