Officials: False alarms equal fines

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By Laura Hagan

 When an alarm sounds inside an Oldham County business, several county resources are involved in responding to an alarm that often turns out to be false.

Members of the Oldham County Fiscal Court are working to regulate alarm systems in the county with a proposed ordinance that would prevent unnecessary response to false alarms, therefore preserving the emergency response capability of local police.  The idea is to encourage alarm users to assume increased responsibility for maintaining the mechanical reliability and proper use of alarm systems. An alarm ordinance already exists, but Magistrate Bob Deibel said it needed refining. Due to a growing number of false alarms – often caused by weather or an accidental trip of the system – local police take time away from other police work to respond. With the county’s new ordinance, three or more false alarms in a year would be a violation – meaning any time an alarm is activated without unauthorized entry, burglary or another crime. Oldham County Police Chief Mike Griffin said his department has responded to thousands of false alarms. In most cases, they’re fixable. Whether it’s simple maintenance or choosing a motion alarm that won’t alert dispatchers and local police when a pets walks through a room, Griffin said preventative steps could reduce the high number of false alarms.  OCPD officers respond to every alarm, he said.  Sometimes alarms sound accidentally during storms. Griffin said home or business owners wouldn’t be held accountable in weather-related instances.  He said he hopes the ordinance – if passed – will reduce false alarms  and hold the home or business owner responsible for repairing the alarm to assure it won’t happen again. The county’s ordinance would require a permit for anyone using an alarm system that elicits police response, and also require individuals to file an application for the alarm system with OCPD.  La Grange Police Chief Kevin Collett said his department investigates many false alarms, but he said LPD’s response time isn’t affected as much because they cover a smaller area.  But any instance when officers are checking the same alarms continuously, he said, it hampers a department’s ability to investigate crime.  “It’s taking them away from other calls,” he said. Collett said if the ordinance passes it might give those who know their alarms are malfunctioning an incentive to make a repair.  According to the ordinance an alarm user may not use any alarm system “which can sound continuously for more than 15 minutes.” The cost to register an alarm system ranges $20 to $40. Fines for violating the ordinance range from $75 for one excessive alarm to $500 for non-payment of a fine within 10 days. Alarm systems used without a permit would also be fined, and all monies  would be deposited in the county’s general fund. The second reading of the alarm ordinance is set for March 17.   E-mail us about this story at: lhagan@oldhamera.com