FAQ - Alarm Ordinance

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Am I (the home/business owner) required to register my alarm system? 

In compliance with the City’s False Alarm Ordinance, the Alarm Company is responsible for alarm system registrations. Alarm Companies are defined as individuals, companies or other entities engaged in the business of planning, installing, servicing, maintaining, repairing, and/or monitoring alarm systems. 

I’ve self-installed my alarm system. Do I need to register?

A property owner who self-installs alarm equipment and is the sole monitoring source of the system does not need to register the system at this time.  However, if the property owner self-installs the equipment, but uses a third-party individual, company or service for monitoring, the company providing the monitoring service must register the company and its customers in accordance with the Alarm Ordinance.  

When a false alarm occurs, who is fined?

When a false alarm is registered, the Alarm Company will receive notification and a fine is assessed per each false alarm.  These fees can be passed on from the Alarm Company to its customers. The alarm user should understand the contractual agreements with its alarm system provider, including policies and practices with respect to the billing of any additional fees and fines. 

Will the City respond if my alarm goes off? 

Dispatch is provided for all panic button and fire alarms calls.

When an intrusion alarm is activated, the Alarm Company must verify that the signal is valid before requesting dispatch from the City’s 911 Center.    

Any intrusion alarm not verified by the Alarm Company prior to requesting dispatch will not be eligible for a response by the police department.  Response is not provided for alarm calls where there is no permit number on file.

Verify means:

    •       Visual or audible confirmation of an attempted or actual crime, fire or other emergency situation at the alarm site; or 

    •       An attempt by the monitoring company, or its representative, to contact the alarm site and/or alarm user by telephone and/or other electronic means. Telephone verification requires at a minimum that a second call is made to a different number if the first attempt fails to reach an alarm user who can properly identify him/herself to attempt to determine whether an alarm signal is valid before requesting public safety dispatch.

 

What are the requirements of the home/business owner (alarm user)

Alarm users are required to maintain the premises and alarm system in a method that will reduce or eliminate false alarms.  You are required to respond or have a representative respond to the alarm system’s location within 30 minutes upon notification of the need to deactivate a malfunctioning alarm system, to provide a right of entry to the premises, or to provide alternative security for the premises. You are also obligated to ensure that an alarm system is not manually activated for any reason other than an occurrence of an event that the alarm system was intended to report.

 

What happens if a location has excessive false alarms? 

Public safety departments will not respond to an activated alarm system at an alarm site following the fourth false alarm within any 24-month period.  Such suspension of alarm response shall be for a period of one calendar year following the date the determination is made to suspend response.   Response is always provided for panic, duress, hold-up and fire alarms.

Police and Fire leadership, at their discretion, can identify those critical or high-risk locations not subject to automatic suspension.  The fire department has the authority to order a fire watch in accordance with adopted codes, due to repetitive false fire alarms, until corrective action is taken.

 

What do you do if you believe the false alarm notice is incorrect?

Assessments for false alarms can be appealed by the Alarm Company by filing a written notice of appeal within ten days after the date of notification of the assessment.  The Alarm Company can email that appeal to sandyspringsga@publicsafetycorp.com or mail to: PO Box 102117, Atlanta, GA 30368-2117, and should include the alarm company’s name and permit number, a contact person and email address; alarm location and permit number, date of the false alarm, reasons for the appeal, and any supporting evidence. 

Alarm Companies are able to pass on fines received from false alarms to their customers. Customers should appeal any fine felt assessed in error directly to the Alarm Company.

 

The City’s alarm policy is different than surrounding municipalities.  My alarm company says the policy places an undue burden on the company. Is this true?

The agreement for monitored alarm services is between the Alarm Company and its customers. The private company owns the relationship with its customer, including, but not limited to, the issuance of equipment, training and insuring that it is a successful system and/or monitoring of an alarm system.  It is not the responsibility of the city or its public safety personnel to tell Alarm Companies how to do their business; that is a private industry call.  

Responding to false alarms is a financial cost to the public and a threat to public safety by the unnecessary diversion of public safety resources. The City’s main intent with the ordinance is to hold alarm-monitoring companies more accountable for false alarms and reduce the number of unnecessary police and fire responses.

 

Will burglary rates increase because of the non-response provision? 

With more than 98 percent of all monitored alarm calls false alarms, there is no correlation between alarms and actual burglaries.  The intent of the ordinance is to reduce the number of responses by public safety personnel in response to false alarms, freeing up public safety personnel to spend more time on patrolling areas and other crime prevention activities – rather than responding to false alarms. 

Also, burglar alarms are designed to protect property, not people. Manually activated alarms such as panic/duress alarms, robbery, and medical alarms are intended to protect people and are given high priority.

 

I pay taxes and want my tax dollars used to have officers respond to my alarm.  

The majority of homes in Sandy Springs do not have monitored alarm systems. Owning and operating an alarm system is a private contract with a private, for-profit firm for a private service.  City personnel are not paid to be security guards for alarm companies or alarm owners and this, unfortunately, is what has occurred over the past several decades related to burglary alarms. 

Manually activated alarms, such as panic/duress alarms, robbery and medical alarms, which are intended to protect people, are given high priority.   

My alarm went off and my Alarm Company suggested that I call 911 directly for response and/or faster service. Is this correct?

You should consider why your Alarm Company is asking you to make the dispatch request, a service you pay for when contracting for monitoring services.  Alarm Companies are required to register the company and each of its customers in accordance with the City’s False Alarm Ordinance. In addition, Alarm Companies are required by State of Georgia Law to provide enhanced verification when calling 911 for dispatch. Alarm Companies who do not comply with local and state laws are fined for failure to comply. Alarm Companies with excessive false alarms or which do not pay accessed fines are placed on a “Do Not Respond” list.

My Alarm Company said the City will no longer respond to 911 calls from the company.  I’ve paid for monitoring and response service. Why are you preventing the company from providing that service?

There are a number of actions which can result in suspension of response to alarm calls.   Public safety personnel will not respond to an activated alarm system at an alarm site following the fourth false alarm within any 24-month period. If an Alarm Company fails to pay fines assessed to the Alarm Company in following the False Alarm Policy, response can be terminated. Alarm Companies are expected to adhere to local and state law, and the City is obligated to enforce penalties as outlined in the Ordinance.

 

 

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