Sandy Springs alarm law upheld by appellate court

A Sandy Springs law that holds alarm companies responsible for 911 calls that falsely trigger first responders has been upheld by an appellate court.
A Sandy Springs law that holds alarm companies responsible for 911 calls that falsely trigger first responders has been upheld by an appellate court.

Security companies operating in the city will continue to pay for repeated false alarms

A Sandy Springs law that holds alarm companies responsible for false alarms has been upheld by an appellate court.

The alarm industry sued Sandy Springs in 2018 over the ordinance that levies a fine against them for repeated false alarms. That same year a U.S. District Court ruled that the city’s law was valid, and the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that decision on Friday.

Sandy Springs fined residents for false alarms when the ordinance was first approved in 2012. But city officials found accidental or non-emergency calls still interfered with first responders’ work, so in 2018 the city began fining alarm companies instead. According to Sandy Springs, the 911 call center received approximately 10,000 false alarm calls in 2017.

In June 2019, Sandy Springs started requiring alarm companies to also verify burglar alarm activity through use of security cameras or confirmation by a person on scene who has heard or seen something at their property. According to city, in the following 12 months there were 1,645 calls made to the 911 call center that were related to home intrusion, panic or duress, and 99% of those were false alarms.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Sandy Springs’ ordinance had reduced the number of false alarm calls, conserving the city’s police and fire resources.

Sandy Springs spokesperson Sharon Kraun said in its ruling, the court recognized that alarm companies that disagreed with the fines had chosen to not use the city’s dispute process, but instead asked courts to intervene.

“(The industry) said we implemented an alarm ordinance just to generate revenue and that’s false,” Kraun explained. “You can’t say that and never fight the fine.”

Mayor Rusty Paul added, “We are pleased that the appellate court recognized our efforts to provide a fair and reasonable solution to curb this waste on public safety efforts.”