New False Alarm Verification
Boise, Dec. 27, 2006 - Beginning January 1st, 2007, a new Boise City ordinance on false burglary alarms goes into affect. False burglar alarms have become a significant drain on BPD manpower and resources, and police officers, at taxpayer expense, have become the response agency for alarm monitoring companies.
With this new ordinance, enacted by the City Council last May, Boise joins a growing number of cities who are updating their false burglar alarm policies to try and curb police response to false alarms.
The Boise Police Crime Prevention Unit sent letters out to affected citizens, businesses and alarm companies in early December reminding them the new ordinance, and corresponding fees will go into affect January 1st, 2007. Affected alarm companies and many business owners provided input for the new ordinance as it was being drafted earlier this year.
False Burg Alarm stats:
- Responding to false alarms cost the Boise Police Department an estimated $50,000 in 2005 in lost manpower, vehicle use and resources. (In 2005, the city collected only $15,825 in false alarm fees)
- In 2005, Boise Police responded to 4,655 burglar alarm calls, 99% are estimated to be false.
- In 2005, false alarms were the third highest call for service for Boise Police Officers (behind accidents: 5,878 calls, and abandoned vehicles: 5,000 calls in ‘05).
- Thru Nov., 2006 BPD officers have responded to 4,372 false alarms.
Boise City New False Alarm Ordinance:
• False Alarm Fee schedule per calendar year:
1st alarm - free
2nd alarm - $50
3rd alarm - $75
4th alarm - $100
5th and subsequent alarm - $200
• Allow 2 free responses for schools.
• Require alarm monitoring companies to use “Enhanced Call Verification” (see definition below).
• Require all new alarm installation to meet Security Industry Association standards.
• Require alarm installers to review with alarm users a False Alarm Prevention Checklist.
• Prohibit single-action non-recessed panic/duress activators and entry/exit delays of less than 45 seconds.
Background: Boise’s false alarm ordinance has not been updated since 1991, when false alarm responses were estimated to cost the department $36,000 and more than 2,000 man hours.
Immediately after the ordinance creating false alarm fees went into effect in 1991, false alarm calls dropped 40% the following year (from 3800 in ‘89 to 2200 in ‘92).
As the city’s population has grown, the number of false alarm calls has steadily grown. It’s estimated about 17% of false burglar alarm calls come from homes (it’s estimated only two percent of residences have security alarms).
“Enhanced Call Verification”: Enhanced Call Verification is the preferred policy of the Security Industry Alarm Coalition, and has recently been enacted in Spokane, Olympia and more than 100 other cities.
Enhanced Call Response requires the alarm monitoring company to make at least two calls to a responsible party prior to calling law enforcement. At least one of those calls has to be off-premise. The objective of contacting a responsible party is to confirm whether someone may be working late onsite, if there have been recent alarm issues due to misuse or malfunction, etc., prior to a police response.