Police in Sandy Springs will no longer respond to burglar alarm calls from 39 companies.
At a city council meeting on Tuesday, city leaders opted to revoke the registration of those alarm service providers because they weren’t paying fines for violating the city’s ordinance. Public safety personnel in Sandy Springs will still respond to fire alarms, duress calls, panic buttons and direct calls to 911.
The companies that had their registration with the city revoked will not be able to request police officers to respond to burglar alarms in Sandy Springs.
Sandy Springs says it logged almost 12,000 false alarm calls in 2016 and estimated that the city spent more than $775,000 in personnel costs on false alarm response.
“In making changes to the ordinance, the alarm companies challenged us to hold them accountable, and we are complying with that request,” Sandy Springs City Attorney Dan Lee said in a statement. “If an alarm user failed to pay his alarm company, how long would the alarm company provide ongoing service? This is no different.”
In a release, the city said the companies were notified at 30, 60 and 90 days of their outstanding balance and that unpaid fines could result in a revocation of their registration. The city fined companies $25 for the first false alarm, $250 for the second and third, and $500 for any false alarm after.
Ken DeSimone, Sandy Springs’ police chief, said at the council meeting that the problem with many alarm companies is that they tie up police officers by making them respond to false alarms, preventing police from responding to real emergencies.
DeSimone said police responded to 135 total false alarms from March 24 to 30. Since the ordinance was implemented, the companies have been fined about $475,000 by the city and only $156,000 of those have been paid.
The revocations come just days after the Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC) and the Georgia Electronic Life Safety and System Association (GELSSA) filed a lawsuit against the city for its ordinances, arguing that the ordinances and fine system is unconstitutional.
In a joint press release by the organizations, they compared Sandy Springs to the fictional town of Mayberry, writing: "Some of the (ordinance's) other provisions are equally troubling and are a reminder of the type of small town 'justice' portrayed as comedy on the Andy Griffith Show. When someone received a ticket from Sheriff Andy Taylor and asked to speak to the judge, Griffith would pull out another sign from his desk announcing he was also Justice of the Peace. The appeals process for the actual Sandy Springs ordinance is just as troubling as Mayberry's fictional justice system."
Sandy Springs fired back with its own press release, saying the industry insulted police officers with that comparison and that the industry “accepts no responsibility for improving a very broken system.”
“This is no small town,” city spokeswoman Sharon Kraun said. “We have an impressive success rate, despite the fact that our officers are forced to spend an inordinate amount of time responding to the gross negligence of the alarm industry, their inability to monitor themselves, and utilize modern best practices.”