Why should I care if I don’t live there?
This law currently only affects the 14,080 registered alarms in the city of 100,000 residents, but it could set a legal precedent for other cities to follow. The law is being challenged by a group of alarm companies.
Frank Rotondo, executive director of the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, previously said that, if the courts vindicate Sandy Springs, “you may see more cities or municipalities accept the Sandy Springs type of ordinance.”
Operator Kelah Handley answers calls at Sandy Springs’ 911 dispatch center Wednesday, April 17, 2019. STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC
City says it’s ready even if you’re not
City spokeswoman Sharon Kraun said she doesn’t know how many alarm owners or alarm businesses are prepared for the new law because it is not the city’s responsibility to get everyone in compliance.
“Hopefully this will reduce the call volume like it’s intended to do,” she said.
Kraun said on Monday said that they were still getting calls from people asking basic questions about what to do.
Businesses hope they’re ready
Confusion has been a theme of the law's rollout. Despite a year of discussion about the city's plans to cut back on responding to home alarms, one alarm company owner feels not all city residents believe it will actually happen.
Vince Raia, president of EMC Security, said less than half of his 325 Sandy Springs customers contacted him to take the steps needed to get their home alarm system into compliance. That’s why he built in a 60-day buffer: EMC will send a guard to EMC’s homes to confirm an emergency is taking place. It’s up to each company to make sure their systems are in compliance so police will respond.
Sandy Springs Chief Ken DeSimone answers questions from residents about the city's new alarm law at City Hall on May 20, 2019.(Ben Brasch/AJC)
Credit: Ben Brasch/AJC
Credit: Ben Brasch/AJC
Why are some people mad?
Residents don’t like hearing that officers won’t show up to possible emergencies at their homes or businesses.
The truth is that the cops weren’t rushing there anyway. DeSimone said the department’s average burglar alarm response time is 40 minutes, basically useless because a criminal is almost always gone by then.
A coalition of alarm companies claim the new fines are unfair, saying they punish businesses for having customers who don’t know how to use their devices. The Security Industry Alarm Coalition’s lawsuit against the city is pending in the 11th District Court of Appeals.
Stan Martin, head of the group, said Tuesday that the law is “a giant step backwards for public safety in the community and is not in keeping with nationwide best practices in alarm management and public safety.”
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They now want proof that there's an emergency before they'll respond.