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3.9.21 – By Zachary Hansen, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Bill that would stop cities from fining alarm companies survives Crossover Day

A proposed state law that would stop cities — like Brookhaven and Sandy Springs — from fining alarm companies for false house alarms survived its first big hurdle, passing the House on Monday.

HB 465, which is sponsored by six House Republicans, passed with a vote of 113-52. The bill would stop cities from fining alarm companies for “a false alarm that occurs through no fault” of their own. The only exception is when the false alarm is due to the company’s “error or improper installation,” according to the bill.

Brookhaven and Sandy Springs, the first metro Atlanta cities to try the new tactic of fining companies, have touted their efforts’ success. Brookhaven police say their city’s policy has dropped false alarms by more than 50% over the past few years, meaning cops waste less of their time.ExploreBrookhaven touts success of fining companies for false alarms. A bill could change that.

“Alarm systems represent a contract between the alarm companies and their customers,” Police Chief Gary Yandura previously told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Since it is the companies who are summoning police to alarm activations, we believe those companies — and not the business owners or homeowners — are the appropriate entities to receive fines for excessive false alarms.”

According to data provided by Brookhaven police, the number of false alarms has dropped from 3,949 calls in 2015 to 1,798 calls in 2020 — a 54.5% decrease. Over that same period, legitimate alarm calls have accounted for between 5% and 9% of all alarm call responses.Alarm Calls in BrookhavenWhile the number of false alarms has been cut in half over the past five years, legitimate alarm calls have remained steady.False AlarmsReal Alarms20152016201720182019202001,0002,0003,0004,0005,000YearNumber of alarm calls

YearFalse AlarmsReal Alarms

Brookhaven Police Department

HB 465 must now pass the state Senate in order to become a law. If approved, it would override the city ordinances passed earlier by Brookhaven and Sandy Springs. The AJC’s Legislative Navigator gives the bill a 62% chance of passing.