Trumbull’s Town Council unanimously enacted the long delayed False Alarm Abatement ordinance last Monday evening.
Is it needed? Chief Thomas Kiely stated that “in 2011 the Police department responded to some 2,550 alarm calls – nearly 99% of them false,” making these the department’s most frequent calls for assistance.
Our police respond to every one – usually with two cars for safety purposes. They treat each as a crime in progress and record them as false only after completing their on site investigations.
This diligence is expensive. Chief Kiely estimates it at the cost of one full time officer – all told, a round number of $90,000 – and added “if I could cut this by 50% I’d be happy.”
If there’s solace, it’s that Trumbull’s false alarm rate is in line with the national rate.
The Ordinance - Summarized
The ordinance will take effect on January 1, 2013. Owners of all activated alarms must register with the police department by that date. Registration is free, as are annual renewals. When a property is transferred the new owner or tenant must register within 30 days.
Every owner receives two free false alarm calls within a permit year (one year from the date of issue of a police department alarm permit). The next three will cost the owner $100 each, the three subsequent $125 and every call thereafter, $150.
The ordinance requires that owners of unregistered alarms pay a penalty of $100, plus a $50 fee for every subsequent incident in addition to the standard false alarm fee(s).
People who send false alarm will be required to attend an Alarm Awareness class, after which one false alarm will be stricken from their record.
One change the ordinance adds that should abate false alarm incidence is to require alarm service providers to use the dual verification protocol that has become the industry standard: unless the provider receives video or audio notification of a crime in progress every alarm will trigger a call to the owner. If the owner fails to answer the provider must make a second call to an alternate number before notifying the police.
All information collected under this ordinance will remain confidential to the town of Trumbull.
The police department will introduce the ordinance through the town’s website, local print and electronic news media; with presentations on channels 17 and 99; by Saturday morning presentations at locations around town, including Long Hill and Nichols Greens to educate, sign up alarm owners, enhance their own visibility and strengthen community relations; and via meetings with commercial property owners - who will then inform tenants of their obligations.
The police will also notify every alarm service provider that Trumbull now has a false alarm ordinance and require that each join in to make our police more effective and efficient.
This important ordinance may not push the whole cost of responding to false alarms onto those responsible, but it will relieve many taxpayers of a small but unnecessary burden.