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Judge dismisses case against Sandy Springs for burglar alarm ordinance

A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a Sandy Springs ordinance that authorizes the city to charge alarm companies fees for false burglar alarms.

In a Wednesday order, Judge Amy Totenberg said the city’s plan to fine companies for false alarms was not arbitrary and unreasonableas an industry group had argued, and dismissed the suit filed in the U.S. District Court in Atlanta.

In a statement, a Sandy Springs spokesperson said the court found “substantive due process and legitimate governmental reasons” for the law. It added that in 2017, 9,802 calls came to the 911 center from alarm companies and 99 percent were false alarms. In 2016, the lawsuit said, there were 974 false fire alarms and 9,292 false police alarm calls, and the cost to the city was more than $770,000.

The city describes the situation as “a public safety crisis created by the alarm industry.”

No one returned a message left for the Georgia Electronic Life Safety & Systems Association, one of the parties in the suit. Stan Martin, executive director of the Security Industry Alarm Coalition, said his group is considering whether to appeal.

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“Obviously, we don’t agree with the federal judge’s ruling,” he said. “We believe it should’ve gone to trial.”

The Sandy Springs ordinance fines companies $25 for a first false alarm and $500 for the fourth or more. This summer, the city updated its ordinance to require audio, video or in-person confirmation that there is a burglar before an alarm company can call 911. The new rules take effect next summer

In an email, Sandy Springs attorney Dan Lee said the city is discussing whether to seek attorney’s fees and sanctions against the companies.

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