Alarm companies continue to dispute Sandy Springs law on false alarms

Operator Kelah Handley answers calls at Sandy Springs’ 911 dispatch center. The City Council has adopted fines for alarm companies that fail to produce evidence within 24 hours that a call to police was legitimate. STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC
Operator Kelah Handley answers calls at Sandy Springs’ 911 dispatch center. The City Council has adopted fines for alarm companies that fail to produce evidence within 24 hours that a call to police was legitimate. STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC

Businesses that lost an appeal of a Sandy Springs law holding alarm companies responsible for false alarms have asked the appellate court to reconsider its decision.

Georgia Electronic Life Safety and Systems Association, A-Com Security and SafeCom Security Solutions lost their lawsuit against the north Fulton city in 2018. The U.S. District Court decision on that case was upheld by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in July.

A statement from the Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC) said the plaintiffs filed a petition with the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals requesting a rehearing. The petition asks the court to consider that the businesses are unfairly held responsible for their customers’ actions, the statement said.

Sandy Springs began fining alarm companies for false alarms in 2018, after officials said the 911 call center received more than 10,000 accidental or non-emergency calls the previous year. According to the city, alarm calls related to home intrusion, panic or duress dropped to about 1,600 calls from June 2019 to June 2020, and nearly all of those were false alarms.

Under the Sandy Springs’ law, alarm companies are fined for false alarms, but can dispute the fine through a city process.

A statement from SIAC said industry executives believe the Sandy Springs law denies alarm companies due process when they are fined.

“The ruling makes it far too easy for a government entity to hold a business responsible for the actions of its customers even if the business does not have a responsible relationship with the customer’s conduct,” SIAC executive director Stan Martin said.