Police propose fines for responding to false alarms

Police propose fines for responding to false alarms

CHICO, Calif. - A proposal to charge $100 for false alarm responses will be presented by officers Wednesday to Chico city leaders.

In June Chico police stopped responding to burglar alarms without verification of criminal activity. The department has faced a backlash over the policy; therefore, a new plan is in the works.

In the last seven weeks, Chico police officers have seen a ninety percent drop in alarm calls, but false alarms still abound. They've responded to more than 300 alarms since June 15.

"Four were actually verified as actually having criminal activity," said Lieutenant Mike O'Brien.

The department adopted a verified alarm policy to reduce responses to false alarms -- unless a crime confirmed by surveillance video or witnesses.

More than 3,000 bad alarm calls were reported in 2012.

"We do not have staff to waste on 3,000 bad calls alarm calls a year," said O'Brien.

But many in community feel unsafe with the new policy. The Chico Police Department has a proposal to resume responses to all alarm calls, but the catch is false alarms will result in a fine to the alarm companies.

"I don't think that's fair," said CEO of Advanced Electric & Sound, Wayne Parsons.

Parsons agrees there are too many false alarms, but believes the penalty for a first offense would be too harsh.

"Fortunately, our fire department doesn't react in the same way," he said. "When a fire alarm goes off they show up right away. They don't say we need to see smoke first."

Parsons feels his customers have been unsafe since Chico police cut back their responses. The company hired a private security firm monitor their customer's alarms.

"We have real cases where people are getting broken into and no one showing up," he added.

That private company responded to four calls, and one was due to a customers' windows being smashed.

"We might be heading in the right direction but I believe that we need the opportunity to not have the first alarm on a particular site should not be $100," said Parsons.

The Chico Police Department will present their proposal to the Internal Affairs Committee Wednesday morning at Chico City Hall. The committee will then make their recommendation to the full City Council.

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