Alarm companies to address new Sandy Springs law confusion

**ADVANCE FOR WEDNESDAY, JUNE 20**Stephen Lyne adjusts his home security system in Rockport, Maine, Tuesday, June 19, 2007. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty) ORG XMIT: MERB103

Credit: Robert F. Bukaty

Credit: Robert F. Bukaty

**ADVANCE FOR WEDNESDAY, JUNE 20**Stephen Lyne adjusts his home security system in Rockport, Maine, Tuesday, June 19, 2007. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty) ORG XMIT: MERB103

Sandy Springs has announced an event that brings together homeowners and alarm companies to discuss a new city law coming soon that aims to reduce false burglary alarms.

The May 20 event comes as residents and business owners work with alarm companies all figuring out how to come in compliance with the new law.

False alarms are a drain on the city's police, so the Sandy Springs City Council voted 2017 for officers to stop responding to any home/business alarms that can't be confirmed as a crime. Experts say other Georgia municipalities could use the new law as a model.

The Sandy Springs law upset some alarm businesses who have appealed to the courts for relief.

It seems like there is still confusion on both sides about the impending law, so the city invited residents and all 266 alarm companies registered with Sandy Springs to a forum, the city announced Thursday.

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The city said there would be no formal presentation at the event. Instead, the purpose is to get homeowners and alarm companies together to talk about how they are both going to be in line with the ordinance.

The new law, which begins June 19, says police will not respond to home and business burglary alarms without video, audio or in-person verification that a crime is occurring. Any violation opens the company, not the homeowner, to fines.

In the city of 100,000 residents, officials say there are 14,080 home and business alarms registered in Sandy Springs.

Dispatch operator Kelah Handley answers calls at a Sandy Springs 911 call center on Wednesday, April 17, 2019. STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC

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The city argues that responding to 8,000 alarm calls last year, which are false 99 percent of the time, wasted $750,000 in taxpayer funds on manhours and equipment.

The calls account for 17 percent of all calls to the 911 dispatch center and tie up the precious time of operators, officials said.

Alarm companies argue that fining the companies is an effort from Sandy Springs to make money, especially when so many of these bad calls are from a small group of customers who don’t know how to use their alarms.

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A coalition of alarm companies and industry professionals are appealing a judge’s decision in a lawsuit between them and the city. As of May 9, records indicated that the case was still pending in the 11th District Court of Appeals.

If the city is proven right in the courts, "you may see more cities or municipalities accept the Sandy Springs type of ordinance," Frank Rotondo, executive director of the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, previously told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The Monday event will run from 6 to 8 p.m. at City Hall, 1 Galambos Way.

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