City ordinance cuts false-alarm calls

April 14, 2010

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 3:40 p.m. April 14, 2010

A city ordinance designed to cut the volume of false-alarm calls to the Issaquah Police Department reduced the number of calls by 63 percent between January 2008 — 18 months before officials approved the ordinance — and January 2010.

The department said the measure saved the department 20 hours in officer time during January. The city released the data Wednesday.

Officers received 71 false alarm calls in January 2009, compared to 36 in January 2010. The number for February dropped from 40 to 28, and the calls fell from 84 to 47 in March during the same timeframe.

Police said a false alarm occurs when officers respond to a call triggered by a security alarm, and after investigating the scene, find no evidence of a criminal offense or attempted criminal activity.

City Council members acted to limit the number of false alarms after police said Issaquah officers responded to 1,035 burglary, robbery or duress alarms in 2008 — but 99.2 percent of the alerts turned out to be false.

The council members OK’d the false-alarm ordinance last July. The measure requires most commercial and residential alarm users to purchase a $24 alarm permit; senior citizens and people with disabilities pay a reduced rate, $12. The ordinance requires alarm companies to notify the city of installations.

Each false burglar alarm costs a violator $100; a false panic or fire alarm costs $200.

Issaquah officials contracted with a Colorado Springs, Colo., company, ATB Services, to administer the program. ATB works with alarm providers to include the permit fee in customers’ bills.

The ordinance became effective in early August, and the police department had procedures in place for the measure by November.

Police Chief Paul Ayers said the department worked with the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce to educate businesses about the change.

“Education was a key component of our new program,” Ayers said in a statement released Wednesday. “Thanks to our community’s efforts to learn more about their alarm systems — and how to prevent false alarms — we have saved valuable time and resources.”

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