Roswell police want annual fee for alarm systems, escalating fines for false calls

Roswell residents and business owners with alarm systems could soon be charged an annual fee by the city. Those responsible for repeated false alarms would face increasing fines — or lose police and fire department responses altogether — under changes City Council is considering.

Public safety officials said 97% of emergency alarm calls to police were false alarms in 2019. Nearly the same percentage of calls to the fire department were false alarms too. Either the calls were canceled after being placed or no emergency incidents were found when first responders arrived, Director of Emergency Communications Melissa Alterio said at a public safety committee meeting Tuesday.

Alterio and Police Chief James Conroy advised City Council members to approve a new law that would charge users escalating fines for false alarms. Fees would range from $50 for the second false alarm to $300 for the eighth which would suspend responses to emergency calls.

Public safety officials also want a law requiring alarm users to obtain a $25 permit that would be renewed annually. The permit would require detailed user contact information be registered with the police department.

Police spokesperson Detective Sean Thompson told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution the fees would be used to pay an outside company to maintain an updated database with the user information for the 911 Center. Alarm companies will be required to have alarm user information including a second contact person to call, Thompson said. That information isn’t continuously updated and couldn’t be relied upon in the past, he added.

City Council members are scheduled to hear a first reading of the new ordinance during a regular meeting on March 22. They could vote to approve the law in April.

Other local cities have worked to address false alarms. Sandy Springs and Brookhaven fine alarm companies for false alarms but a proposed state law passed by House Republicans on Monday would stop that practice.