Boise Police Department
News Release

William L. Bones
Chief of Police

Contact: BPD Media Relations Office


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

False Alarm Ord

False Alarm Ord

Boise, May 9, 2006 – Boise Police Chief Michael Masterson will present a proposed update of the city’s False Alarm Ordinance to the City Council during their work session tonight at 6:00 in the Bonneville room, 3rd floor of City Hall.

BPD Reasons for updating the False Alarm Ordinance:

Chief Masterson continues to work with city leaders to review police services and make sure adequate resources are available for priority and emergency calls, calls that affect the safety and vitality of our city.

The Chief believes recent statistics prove 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.

The Chief would like Boise to join a growing number of cities who are updating their false alarm policies to try and curb police response to false burglar alarms.

  • 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 $15,825 in fees)
  • In 2005, Boise Police responded to 4,655 burglar alarm calls, 99% are estimated to be false.
  • False alarms are now the third highest call for service for Boise Police Officers (behind accidents: 5,878 calls, and abandoned vehicles: 5,000 calls in ‘05).

What BPD Proposes:

The Boise Police Crime Prevention Unit has been researching the issue of false alarms since January of this year.

Their research includes working with industry groups like the Idaho Alarm Association and national coalitions of industry and police. The Crime Prevention Unit has also researched ordinances being updated in cities around the nation in response to this growing problem.

Recommended Ordinance Changes:

  • Fee schedule per calendar year:
    • 1 - free
    • 2 - $50
    • 3 - $75
    • 4 - $100
    • 5 (+) - $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.

The current ordinance allows two free false alarms, the third is a fee of $25, 4th - $50., 5th - $75 and establishments/homeowner are fined $100 per call at six false alarm calls and above per calendar year.

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 mis-use or malfunction, etc., prior to a police response.