False alarm fines on the table in Lawrenceville

Lawrenceville officials are still weighing their options for levying fines against residents or alarm companies for setting off multiple false security alarms.

At its Wednesday evening work session, City Council discussed issuing fines by contracting with a private company to monitor false alarms and send out bills. As an alternative, it also discussed beefing up an existing 1996 ordinance that hasn’t been enforced.

The Lawrenceville Police Department responded to 2,300 alarm calls in 2020, but only six were true alarms. Over the past five years, the department calculated it cost just shy of $375,000 to send two police officers out to every alarm call.

“We’re a service-minded organization and that’s what we’re here to do,” said Capt. Ryan Morgan. “Any time the phone rings, we’re going. But if we can find ways to eliminate that wasted time and money, I think it’s the end goal.”

Lawrenceville initiated the discussion in February. The council decided Wednesday evening to pick up the conversation at its June work session after the Lawrenceville Police Department and city officials gather more information.

Other metro Atlanta cities, including Sandy Springs, Brookhaven and most recently Roswell, have all passed similar alarm ordinances. A bill recently passed by the Georgia House and Senate could impact the scope in which cities can fine alarm companies for their customers’ false alarms.