Confusion abounds over new Sandy Springs alarm law

Sandy Springs Chief Ken DeSimone answers questions from residents about the city's new alarm law at City Hall on May 20, 2019.

Credit: Ben Brasch/AJC

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Sandy Springs Chief Ken DeSimone answers questions from residents about the city's new alarm law at City Hall on May 20, 2019.

Credit: Ben Brasch/AJC

Credit: Ben Brasch/AJC

The theme was confusion Monday night at Sandy Springs City Hall. The city hosted an event bringing together who own alarms and those who own alarm companies.

Generally: Those with burglar alarms are confused what the rules are and just want police to keep showing up. Those who own the companies are confused why any of this is happening.

And confusion is bad considering the law — and its fines to alarm companies that could be passed along to customers — start June 19.

Under the law, police officers will not respond to home and business burglary alarms without video, audio or in-person verification that a crime is occurring.

The Sandy Spring City Council has been tweaking its contentious home and business alarm response ordinance for years — and was set to do so again Tuesday night.

Homeowners worry the cops won’t respond if there is a real emergency, and alarm company owners worry they won’t be able to get all their customers in compliance in time.

Eric Widner, general manager of Loud Security Systems, said just one of his 400 Sandy Springs customers are in compliance.

“The other 399 on June 19 won’t get dispatched,” he said.

A coalition of alarm companies that is fighting with city in court has deemed the law unfair to businesses, saying they were being punished for having customers who don’t know how to use their devices.

Widner said city officials “just don’t care.” He added: “They’re willing to put their community in danger.”

Sandy Springs police’s Chief Ken DeSimone said what’s dangerous is his officers wasting time when 99% of the 8,000 burglary calls they get each year are false alarms.

IN OTHER LOCAL NEWS | Sandy Springs, first in cityhood, changes how it does business

The chief told residents huddled around him Monday night that the average burglar alarm response time is 40 minutes, which he said is basically useless because a criminal is almost always gone by then.

DeSimone said the false alarms also tie up the precious time of 911 dispatchers.

All this leaves the customer not only confused, but it also costs hundreds of dollars to get in compliance.

Well over 50 customers peppered representatives of 18 alarm companies with questions on price and service.

Russ Dalba, age 74, was one of them.

A resident of the Sandy Springs area since 1989, he said he had been an ADT customer for 15 years.

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He said he might look at a relatively inexpensive Ring or Nest device to compliment his existing system, which seemed to be a popular option with the crowd. But he wasn’t sure.

He said he understood where the police were coming from, but he’d rather not have to deal with any of this.

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They now want proof that there's an emergency before they'll respond.

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