Renton requires registration for all monitored alarm systems

False alarms cost the city $350,000 a year in police staff time.

All homes and businesses in Renton city limits are now required to register their monitored alarm systems with the city and pay a one-time $25 registration fee. The move is part of an ordinance passed last year to decrease false alarm calls to the Renton Police Department and free up police time and resources.

The false alarm ordinance, approved in late December 2018 by the Renton City Council, changed from its original wording, which would have required all monitored alarm owners to get a permit. The registration process was easier than permitting and also offered more legal protection for the city, the Renton Reporter previously reported.

All registered users will have a 90-day grace period, which began May 1. The users will then be allowed one false alarm call, and after that, the user is charged $100 for one false alarm, then $250 for three or more false alarms in the same year. After eight, the user is charged another $250 and their registration is removed.

Those who don’t register their monitored alarm system will receive a $50 fee.

The registration requires annual renewal at no charge, and registrations are non-transferable. Those users who currently have alarm permits need to register for the new system at rentonwa.gov/falsealarm.

The police department has been sending two officers to every possible break-in. In 2016, it cost the Renton Police Department $357,235.79 to respond to alarm calls. On average, it costs the city $350,000 a year in unproductive staff time. False alarms in 2017 and 2018 were not tracked because there was no false alarm program.

“You’d rather have (officers) patrolling at night, having an active presence in the area, than being pulled to a building downtown three times a week because an alarm is going off,” Councilmember Armondo Pavone said in a previous interview. “This is not an attempt to generate revenue. This is an attempt to stop a small percent of users who cause this to take care of their systems.”

Another goal is to stop those users from alarm negligence. Pavone said that 20% of alarm users caused 80% of the false calls.

In a previous article, Renton Police Community Programs Coordinator Cyndie Parks said the previous alarm ordinance has been inoperable since 2016 because of outdated wording. The department began working with a private company to create a new alarm ordinance that would follow other cities’ false alarm ordinances, like Auburn and Bellevue.

The police department’s False Alarm Reduction Program is being managed by an outside company, CryWolf False Alarm Solutions.

“After a few years of research, it was recognized the city needed a more cost-effective option to offer the public, which lead us to partner with a private company to manage these efforts,” the Renton Police Department states on its website.

According to the police department, an appeal process will be available for users who feel fines or fees were unduly assessed.

The Renton Reporter previously covered the original wording of the ordinance, which was delayed, and the passing in December 2018.

Ways to avoid false alarms

• Do routine maintenance on the alarm system and sensors.

• Make sure those with authorization to enter the house or business have the proper codes.

• If the alarm is triggered, punch in the proper code to cancel the alarm. You will only be charged if police arrive at the destination and confirm is was a false alarm.

• Consider possible circumstances that could set off motion sensors in your home, such as pets or balloons, in order to avoid them.

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