Higher fines implemented for false alarms
DeKalb residents and business owners who exceed their false alarm quota will now face steep fines.
Last month, county commissioners raised the fee for police response to false fire, burglary and robbery alarms to $100.
The new fee is a 300 percent increase over the $25 a call fee that had been in effect since 1976.
County businesses and residents are allowed four false alarms without penalty in a year. After that, they are charged for each false alarm that requires police investigation.
The new fee, which is effective immediately, will be levied upon the fifth and subsequent responses to false alarms.
Thomas Brown, the county's public safety director, said the new fee brings the county in line with other metro counties.
But a check with neighboring counties shows that DeKalb allows the most free calls and equals Gwinnett County, which had 57,000 false alarms last year, for the steepest fine on the fifth false alarm. Cobb and Fulton also levy $100 fines, but not until the sixth call.
Brown said the fee hike was necessary to cope with the growing number of false alarms brought on by the county's booming construction, growing population and more security-conscious home and business owners.
"The number of residential and commercial alarms has increased dramatically and has caused a significant increase in the use of police resources to respond to false alarms," Brown said.
Last year, the county responded to 145,000 residential security alarms, of which only 39 were valid alarms, the department said.
But while they will pay more, residents will no longer be required to tell the police what corrective actions they took to remedy their false alarm problems.
The Board of Commissioners repealed the county ordinance that mandated the reporting procedure, which Brown said had proven unmanageable for public safety, and had been largely ignored by the public.