The Sandy Spring City Council could make a last-minute change to its contentious home and business alarm response ordinance, a new law that could have statewide implications.
The City Council initially planned to require alarm companies to provide a video or immediate verification of a burglary taking place before police would respond to an alarm.
But now the council is planning for police to continue responding immediately to alarms. This proposal gives alarm companies 24 hours to provide video proof of the burglary that caused the alarm.
“We’re going to take them at their word,” city spokeswoman Sharon Kraun said Monday. She added: “We didn’t want to leave any room for interpretation.”
Experts have said that, if upheld in the courts, the Sandy Springs model of verified response could be adopted by other municipalities in Georgia.
The 24-hour window for verification is the latest of many tweaks to a 2013 City Council ordinance that aimed to reduce the amount of police time wasted on false alarms. The city estimates 99% of its 8,000 burglary calls each year are false alarms.
The law, set to take effect June 19, makes companies responsible for paying fines for false alarms, though it’s expected some businesses will pass along costs to customers.
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There was plenty of confusion between those who own the 14,080 alarms registered with the city and the 226 registered alarm companies even before this proposal.
Kraun said the 24-hour grace period was something that a coalition of alarm companies has wanted throughout years of negotiation. When asked why the change was being made less than a month before the law’s start, Kraun said: “It was just a timing thing.”
The coalition is appealing a judge’s decision in a lawsuit between them and the city. Alarm companies argue that fining companies instead of customers makes little sense because so many bad calls come from a small group of customers who don’t know how to use their alarms.
The proposed law is expected to be voted on at Tuesday’s City Council meeting in City Hall, 1 Galambos Way, beginning at 6 p.m.
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