CPD Wants to Enforce False Alarm Ordinance

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COLUMBIA - Businesses and property owners that have security alarms could pay a fine if police have to respond too many times.

The False Alarm Administrative Fee section of a city ordinance states that four false alarms from any alarm system in a 30 day period requires a $100.00 fee. However, no one is in charge of collecting that payment.

Columbia Police Sgt. Joe Bernhard shared statistics that show the number of alarm calls CPD has responded to since 2008. The amount of calls has differed a little throughout the years, but the frequency is still high.

2008: 4,881 alarm responses

2009: 4,568 alarm responses

2010: 4,706 alarm responses

2011: 4,427 alarm responses

2012: 4,440 alarm responses

Ninety eight percent of false alarms are responded to nationally. In Columbia, the average runs about 96.5 percent.

Dispatch sends two police officers to every alarm call. Those calls include hold-up, robbery, panic and residential burglary alarms. Most of them take between 18 and 20 minutes to handle.

"I know we're looking at different responses to alarm calls. Maybe look at our ordinance and see how we can change that to maybe respond to less false alarms, more good alarms," Bernhard said.

Sgt. Bernhard also pointed out the importance of people updating and maintaining their alarm systems to avoid false alarms from happening.

"Alarm systems are just like any other system in your home, your HVAC or anything like that," Bernhard said. "It does take maintenance and a review of them every once in a while to make sure they're working properly and everybody know the codes so they don't set them off."

The alarm ordinances are listed in chapter 13 of the Municipal Code.

City council member Michael Trapp said council would have to vote to bring the ordinance up for discussion before it could make any changes.