301.519.9237 exdirector@nesaus.org

11.11.19 – SSI – Rodney Bosch

City officials adopted fines for alarm companies that claim to have evidence to verify a call for police dispatch but then fail to provide that evidence.

The Sandy Springs City Council continues to proactively amend the municipality’s contentious alarm ordinance while it is being challenged in court by the security industry.

The city recently adopted fines for installing security contractors that claim to have evidence that verifies an alarm event in order to dispatch police, but then fail to provide that evidence to the city.

The newly amended rules and fine schedule were submitted to the City Council by City Attorney Dan Lee in a memo dated Oct. 31. The amending ordinance clarifies the definition of false verification to include failure to provide video or audio verification within 24 hours of a request for dispatch.

The city maintains some alarm companies have claimed to have evidence of verification and then failed to provide it to the city. In such cases the alarms have proved to be false, according to city officials.

The resolution establishes fees for false verification of an intrusion alarm of $250 for the first offense, $500 for the second offense and $1,000 for the third and each subsequent offense.

The resolution to implement the changes became effective Nov. 5.

Spearheaded by former City Manager John McDonough, Sandy Springs first adopted a false alarm ordinance in 2013 in an effort to reduce the number of calls for police dispatch to nuisance intrusion alarms.

The city has since implemented a series of changes to the ordinance, including this past June when it became the first municipality in Georgia to say it would not respond to home and business intrusion alarms without video, audio or in-person verification of a crime in progress.

In 2017, with false alarm calls still averaging 10,000 per year, the City Council revised the alarm ordinance, placing fines on the alarm companies. The trend of high call volume with 99.5% of alarm calls false alarms continued, according to the city.

In March 2018, after the council approved amending the ordinance to shift the fines for false alarm violations from the customers to the alarm companies for the false alarms they reported to 911 on behalf of their customers, the companies and the Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC) filed a federal lawsuit against the city.