DeKalb County leaders hope new fines will reduce the number of false alarms the police department responds to each year.
In 2009, 95 percent of the alarms responded to by the police department were false alarms, according to county reports.
“Many people in the public…may be upset at first that we would charge a fee for alarms going off,” said Commissioner Lee May.
“If you do like I do sometimes, you walk through the door and forget the alarm is on…and the alarm goes off,” May said. “That’s not where you get the fine because each alarm company should call you...so you can squash that call, meaning no officers, no firefighters should come to your residence.
“If that call by your alarm company is not responded to [is] when our firefighters and police officers are dispatched,” May said. “If that call is a false alarm [is] when the fine would occur.
“This is meant to get people to be more responsible with their alarms,” May said. “If people have to pay money, they’ll be more conscious.”
For the first false alarm, the fine is waived. The second time police are dispatched to a residence for a false alarm, the fine is $50 and $100 the third time.
“The point of this is to deter people from allowing false alarms,” May said. “Every time a police officer or firefighter is dispatched to a false alarm that means they cannot be dispatched in other areas of the county.”
Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton said implementing the fines “is something good for the county and it actually works.”
Police Chief William O’Brien said other localities that have implemented false alarm fines have been able to reduce their number of false alarms by 40-50 percent.
“If we could reduce them by that number it would be a tremendous workload off the officers,” O’Brien said. The department would “be able to put them back into the field.”