Roswell says false alarm strategy needs to improve

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

Alarms guarding homes and businesses are the biggest source of police calls for service in Roswell, and Police Chief James Conroy is suggesting higher fines for false alarm late fees.

Mayor Kurt Wilson agreed that false alarms are a problem, but said the city needs to look at additional strategies first.

Roswell has been charging escalating fees for false alarms since spring 2021. City Council will consider making adjustments to the fee structure during the Dec. 12 meeting.

During a Nov. 29 public safety meeting with City Council, Conroy and Fire Chief Joe Pennino proposed a focus on businesses and residents who violate the alarm ordinance instead of those in compliance.

Their plan would eliminate the $25 permit and renewal fees for alarms systems; increase late charges for false alarm payments to $50 and $100; and extend the timeline for when those payments are due to 60 days.

Residents and business owners are notified of their false alarm charges by mail, which Wilson says is not an efficient strategy to address the problem.

In 2021, Roswell police received 4,200 alarm calls, most of which were false alarms, the officials said. Last October, Roswell’s fire department answered 82 fire alarm calls, and about 70 were false alarms.

Pennino estimates 15 hours of firefighters’ time in October was spent on false alarms.

In the proposal, the main part of the false alarm fee schedule would remain in place — $50 for the second false alarm to $300 for the eighth. That latter charge would suspend responses to emergency calls.

Wilson said increasing fees would only address a small piece of a major problem. Other cities such as Sandy Springs are managing false alarms by requiring residents’ alarm companies to verify the validity of the alarm before responding, he said.

“People don’t realize that when the police or fire respond to a false alarm, that’s a big deal,” Wilson added. “(It’s) a huge waste of resources.”