Police to Begin Charging for False Alarms
Starting Sept. 1 the Annapolis Police Department will begin fining area residents and businesses when they respond to a call that turns out to be a false alarm.
Annapolis residents and businesses will soon be charged up to $200 when police respond to a false alarm, according to a police statement.
"The police department hopes to encourage alarm users to keep their alarm systems in good working order. This will cut down on the number of false alarms officers respond to throughout the year," police said.
From October 2010 to October 2011, Annapolis police responded to 1,954 calls—99.8 percent of which turned out to be false alarms.
Police decided to begin enforcement this fall of City Ordinance 10.06.00, which has been on the books since Sept. 1, 2009.
There is no fine for the first and second false alarms. But if a person has a third false alarm within a 365-day period the fine is $100. The penalty jumps to $200 for all subsequent false alarms within the year-long time frame.
The police department said it will send letters to area businesses and residents that have had multiple alarm failures in 2012. The letter is not a fine, but a warning about the policy changes.
Annapolis Business Association President Sean O'Neill said he thinks the law is reasonable, given that it allows for two free passes.
"Accidents happen, and that is understandable," O'Neill said. "Our police have plenty to keep them busy, so a business's alarm that is 'crying wolf' can become a liability to others who are actually in need of their services."
The ordinance defines a false alarm as "any communication generated by or as a result of an alarm system or telecommunication that results in a response and investigation by the City’s Fire/EMS or police departments which reveals no evidence or indication of a health or safety risk or other actual hazard."
False alarms that are caused by unusually severe weather or ones that are deemed to be beyond the owner's control will not be counted.
The police department also is launching an online voluntary alarm registration form at www.annapolis.gov/police.
Alarm users should submit the forms to the Annapolis Police Department at 199 Taylor Avenue. The forms can also be obtained and filled out at the station.
The registration is free, and it helps police notify owners when an alarm goes off.