1.12.19 – Salina Journal-
Salina police officers are spending less time answering false alarm calls, thanks to an ordinance passed three years ago.
Chief Brad Nelson said the ordinance, enacted on Jan. 1, 2016, was intended to help reduce burglar, panic and robbery system false alarm calls.
Nelson said 99 percent of the approximately 2,000 alarm calls received by law enforcement annually were false alarms. And since each alarm response required two officers, the department was spending more than 1,600 hours annually responding to false alarms.
“This was really wasting our resources,” Nelson said.
The false alarm ordinance — passed by the Salina City Commission for both the Salina Police Department and Salina Fire Department — allowed fines to be implemented for repeated false alarms and called for the licensing of alarm installers.
A year after the implementation of the ordinance, two officer response calls decreased by 37 percent. The three year combined reduction now totals 48 percent.
That’s about 958 needless calls, or about 80 per month, that did not require a police response, Nelson said, which has helped free officers for more proactive enforcement and community policing activities.
The ordinance also improved communications between Salina police and alarm system owners, encouraging owners to better maintain and be accountable for their systems. Since 2016, more than 800 residential and commercial permits have been obtained in Salina.
“Until the ordinance, there was no incentive to fix what’s broken,” he said. “Since the ordinance went live, it’s exceeded our expectations. A 48 percent reduction is amazing.”
For more information about the false alarm ordinance, call Chief Nelson at 826-7210. To view the ordinance, fees and tips on how to reduce false alarms, go to salina-ks.gov.
Alarm ordinance: a better use of resources
It’s safe to say that Salina Police Chief Brad Nelson doesn’t like to waste resources. Even more important, he doesn’t like pulling his personnel away from true emergencies to respond to false alarms.
So when Nelson was hired as chief, he began working to implement a false alarm ordinance for Salina.
“We really were wasting resources,” Nelson said of responding to false alarm calls.
Indeed, prior to the ordinance being implemented, 99 percent of the approximate 2,000 alarm calls the police department received each year were for false alarms, Nelson said. Since each alarm call requires two officers, the department spent more than 1,600 hours annually responding to false alarms, taking officers away from legitimate community needs and emergencies.
According to the ordinance, which was passed July 6, 2015, and went into effect in 2016, most false alarms were the result of improper maintenance or use of an alarm system. There was no incentive for people and businesses to fix the problems that triggered false alarms, Nelson said.
Having an ordinance with financial penalties fixed that. Alarm systems within the city limits are required to be registered annually. Nelson said that more than 800 alarms are now registered.
According to Nelson, one year after the implementation of the ordinance, two officer response calls decreased by 37 percent, and to date there has been a 48-percent reduction in false alarm calls. The reduction of approximately 958 (80/month) needless calls for service that did not result in a police response has freed up officers for proactive enforcement and/or community policing activities, Nelson said.