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Alarm Ordinance

Alarm Ordinance in Sandy Springs

Effective June 19, 2019, The City of Sandy Springs adopted a “True Verification” standard for determining when an intrusion (burglar) alarm is eligible for police dispatch. True Verification means an intrusion alarm must be verified by either audio, video, or private response to be eligible for police response. The True Verification standard affects intrusion alarm activations only.  The Sandy Springs Fire Department will respond to all fire alarms. The Sandy Springs Police Department will respond to all duress, panic, holdup, and medical alarm activations without needing verification.

If I have a self-monitored alarm, how do I get police or fire response?

Users who have self-monitored alarms may receive public safety response by dialing 911 from inside the City limits of Sandy Springs. Users outside the City of Sandy Springs may dial 404-843-6680 to request police or fire response to a self-monitored alarm system.

Verification means an intrusion alarm must be verified by either audio, video, or private response to be eligible for police response. The True Verification standard affects intrusion alarm activations only.  The Sandy Springs Fire Department will respond to all fire alarms. The Sandy Springs Police Department will respond to all duress, panic, button, holdup, and medical alarm activations. 

What Does Verify Mean:

"Verify or verified means visual or audible confirmation of an attempted or actual crime, fire or other emergency situation at the alarm site by means of:

 

b. Confirmation by a private guard responder at the alarm site;

c. Audible and/or visual evidence provided by a monitored alarm system

There are varieties of systems that range from low to high cost which will enable an alarm user to be in compliance, including the use of a self-monitored system where you maintain your traditional alarm system and pair it with a self-installed/self-monitored video system. Guard response requires no added equipment, and costs are typically based on per-activation assessments.

Why the Change to True Verification?

The City adopted its first alarm ordinance in 2012, with the goal of reducing the large number of false alarm calls into the 911 Center, using valuable public safety resources in both the 911 Center as well as Public Safety personnel required to follow up on false alarm calls.  The original ordinance fined alarm customers for false alarms.   Research into cities with success at reducing false alarms showed that True Verification provided substantial reductions in false alarm calls.  In June 2018, the Council revised the ordinance, requiring True Verification, providing the alarm industry with a full year to prepare for the change. The Ordinance was amended May 2019, providing alarm companies with 24 hours to provide video or audio clips to the 911 Center.    

The main objective of the ordinance change is to enhance the safety for all who live and work in Sandy Springs.   

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a "verified" alarm?

 

As defined in the Alarm Ordinance, verified means visual or audible confirmation of an attempted or actual crime, fire, or other emergency situation at the alarm site using either audio or video monitoring, by private guard response, or by alarm user presence.

An audio or video monitoring system may be utilized by either a commercial monitoring company or a private user.

If I have a self-monitored alarm, how do I get police or fire response?

Users who have self-monitored alarms may receive public safety response by dialing 911 from inside the City limits of Sandy Springs. Users outside the City of Sandy Springs may dial 404-843-6680 to request police or fire response to a self-monitored alarm system.

Does the verification requirement still apply if I have a self-monitored alarm system?

Yes. To be eligible for police dispatch, the alarm user must have audio or video verification for an intrusion alarm to be eligible for dispatch.

Alarm Services & Monitoring

Alarm systems are often used in residential and commercial properties for what customers perceive as detecting intrusion or unauthorized entry. More than 99 percent of calls from monitoring alarm companies are false alarms, a statistic that is consistent across the country. An estimated 18 percent of all calls into the City’s 9-1-1 center come from alarm companies. This high percentage of false alarms results in a financial cost to the public and threat to public safety by the unnecessary diversion of public safety resources.  

We understand that by using an “alarm system,” you are looking out for those you care about. Advances in technology now make it possible for audio and/or video activation, which enable the ability to better assess whether an intrusion alarm activation is a burglar in the building or simply a faulty sensor in need of repair.  In addition, systems today can be self-installed and monitored; installed and monitored by a third-party company, or a combination of both. 

The main objective of the ordinance change is to enhance the safety for all who live and work in Sandy Springs.  Following a model used by cities including Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Seattle, and Detroit, adding the requirement to provide either audio, video or in person verification has drastically reduced the false alarms reported into 9-1-1. 

    Alarm Registration

    Do I have to register my alarm system?

    No. Under the City of Sandy Springs False Alarm Ordinance, the Alarm Company is responsible for registration of its customers.  CryWolf Services, Inc. is the alarm administrator for the City of Sandy Springs. An Alarm Company can register the company or any of its customers by calling 1-855-725-7101.  

    Alarm Fines

    Fines for false alarms are assessed to the Alarm Company, not the individual alarm user.

    Alarm Companies are billed directly for all false alarm fees.  The fee structure is designed to recover the costs of public safety dispatch and response by the City.

    False Alarms are those calls made by an Alarm Company to the 911 Center in which public safety personnel is en route to a property location in which the call proves to be unfounded. Canceled alarms where the alarm is canceled, but the officer has already checked the premise, are also considered false alarms. An alarm which is canceled prior to the officer being sent to the premise is not considered a false alarm.

    Calls made to request public safety dispatch without state-mandated verification conducted prior to the request for dispatch are administrative violations which disqualify an alarm for response in addition to a fine to the alarm company.

    Alarm Companies are not restricted from passing along false alarm fines to their customers.  Alarm users are encouraged to understand their Alarm Company’s policies and procedures related to false alarms and assessment/payment of fines when entering an agreement with the Alarm Company.

    Response is always provided for panic, duress, hold-up and fire alarms.

    Appeals

    How does an alarm company appeal a false alarm fine?

    Alarm Companies may appeal an assessment of a false alarm fine or permit suspension to the Alarm Administrator by utilizing the Appeal Form and submitting in writing the reasons for the appeal within 30 days of the date of the notice sent.  

    The Appeal Form may be obtained by making an email request to CryWolf at sandyspringsga@publicsafetycorp.com, by phone at 855-725-7101, by mail at PO Box 102117, Atlanta, GA 30368-2117.  

    What if I have further questions about alarm systems or the City’s Alarm Ordinance?

    Those who have additional questions about alarm systems or the City’s Alarm Ordinance may call the Sandy Springs Police Department at 770-551-6900 – ask to speak to the Alarm Administrator.

    ORDINANCE CHANGES 
    On June 19, 2018, the Sandy Springs City Council approved changes to its False Alarm Ordinance as indicated in the attached document. The changes update the definition of “verified” to mean visual or audible confirmation of an attempted or actual crime, fire, or other emergency situation at the alarm site by means of: 1. Confirmation by the alarm user at the alarm site or via self-monitored audio/visual equipment; 2. Confirmation by a private guard responder at the alarm site; or 3. Audible and/or visual evidence provided by a monitored alarm system, provided that such evidence shall be made available to the emergency communications center prior to dispatch. This change in definition will move the City to a model of full, confirmed verified response through audio, video, or in-person verification.

    The ordinance provides that the definition change becomes effective on June 19, 2019, to allow alarm users and alarm companies time to adapt to the new model. All other provisions of the attached ordinance would become effective immediately upon adoption.

    Other changes to the ordinance requires alarm companies to notify an alarm user when the user’s system has been registered, to provide users with the appropriate permit number, and to require alarm companies to copy the city on notifications to alarm users when service is suspended for an alarm company’s failure to meet the requirements of the ordinance. 

    On May 1, 2018, the Sandy Springs City Council approved a change to Section 18-36 of the City’s Code of Ordinances related to Alarm Permits. When an alarm company has its permit suspended for noncompliance with the Ordinance, the alarm company MUST PROVIDE WRITTEN NOTICE TO ITS CONTRACTING ALARM USERS, notifying them that the alarm company is no longer entitled to request public safety department response to activated intrusion alarms.  Failure of the alarm company to notify its customers as provided shall result in a suspension of the alarm company’s permit for a total of three (3) months following the alarm company coming into full compliance with the provisions of the Ordinance.

      

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