False Alarms Use Valuable Resources


Every one of last year's 548 false alarms answered by Payson Police tied up two police officers (and sometimes a couple members of the fire department) for between 30 minutes and an hour.

Since Jan. 1, Payson Police have answered 121 false alarms.

Right now, Payson has 232 alarm permits on file, 166 for business alarms and 66 residential, said Sgt. Don Kasl.

He said the majority of last year's 548 false alarms could have been avoided.

"Most of it (false alarms) is from people like cleaning crews and things like that," said Kasl. "They don't turn it off when they go in to clean and then we have to go see what is going on."

Some of the false alarms are the result of things like banners or signs that break loose and flap in the wind, setting off the alarm, he added.

In those types of cases, police usually ask the owner to come to the location to determine if anything is wrong.

After three alarms not due to a break-in or other criminal or unauthorized activity, police can charge the owner a fine.

"We don't start imposing fines on people as soon as they hook up an alarm though, we're not unreasonable, we give new (alarm permits) a grace period," Kasl said.

New alarms have 30 days to work out all the bugs and make sure the system is functioning properly, but after that 30-day period, fines can be imposed.

After three warnings, police send a letter with tips on how to avoid false alarms and fines, he said.

Kasl said there is a $50 fine for the fourth false alarm, which will increase to $75 for a fifth and $100 for six or more.

"The ordnance allowing imposition of fines was passed on April 24, 2003, but we didn't start enforcing it until last year," said Kasl.

He cited one case of a business owner in Payson who had racked up 15 false alarms in one year.

If all of those fines had to be paid, that would have totaled $1,395. The department made about $7,000 last year on fines, but the goal of Payson Police is to get people to maintain and operate alarms properly so police can devote their time to answering legitimate alarm calls and catching crooks and keeping the community safe, he said.

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