An ordinance from August that would fine false alarms was approved Monday, Dec. 10 at city council.
Councilmember Armondo Pavone asked to hold the new rules Aug. 20 so the council could take a second look. Now the system and some wording has changed but the monetary penalties remain the same. A second false alarm in one year results in a $100 fine.
The main change to the ordinance was that instead of a permit, the user will register their alarm. A permit would be granted by the police department, but registration is something you voluntarily sign up for, Pavone said.
However, if you don’t sign up there’s still a $50 non-registration fee. Registration also offers more legal protection to the city.
The wording was “cleaned up” so Renton will not need to prove why the false alarm occurred and clarified the responsibilities between users and companies, Pavone said.
“There’s no way for the city to know if it was due to someone breaking in or faulty wiring,” he said.
The ordinance was originally written by an alarm company, so the revision removes language that protected them, Pavone said. The fines still go to the user, and he said it’s still their obligation to make sure the system’s working properly.
Pavone said it’s a double-edged sword for police; they want to take care of residential break-ins but high numbers of accidental calls take up resources.
“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,” he said. “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.”
He said most false calls are just a few owners because there’s no penalty; just 20 percent of owners cause 80 percent of these calls.
More information on the fines is at www.rentonreporter.com/news/action-on-alarm-rules-delayed/.