Metro Phoenix city looks to force false alarm fines on alarm companies

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

AVONDALE, Ariz.—City officials here held a meeting March 7 with certain members of the local security industry as well as representatives from SIAC to discuss their false alarm ordinance. The results of that meeting include the city remaining firm on its decision to fine alarm companies for false alarms. According to SIAC industry/law enforcement liaison Jon Sargent, the outcome could have been better.

“This is similar to what happened in Fontana, but not quite the same. That had to do with due process and constitutional issues. Fining the alarm company for non-wrongful conduct is not right,” Sargent said. “Part of what I read was to let them know that they can’t do that. They can’t fine the industry for users’ false alarms.”

Fontana, Calif. last year finally came to a settlement with the Inland Empire Alarm Association after a protracted legal battle over its unconstitutional false alarm ordinance.

Avondale has outsourced administration of its false alarm ordinance, including fining of alarm companies for false alarms, to Waldorf, Md.-based CryWolf False Alarm Reduction Solutions. Calls to Avondale City Council, the Avondale Police and CryWolf were not returned by press time.

What’s the next step for the industry in Avondale? Sargent said regardless of whether AzAA or SIAC take the lead, there will be more action to come.

“It was our industry’s hope that they would listen and work with us … We’ve got a serious concern with what’s happened here. In every other city we work in, the third party bills and collects the fees from the users,” Sargent said. “The industry can not just sit by and allow this to go unanswered. This is definitely not over.”

AzAA president Maria Malice who is with C.O.P.S. Monitoring agrees something must be done.

"We want to resolve an outstanding issue that we feel needs to be addressed in the ordinance, and so we have an industry attorney reviewing it,” Malice told Security Systems News. “We do not believe the council received the full picture of the operation of the false alarm fines. Cities that outsource administration and collection have found that fining alarm system owners is very  effective and they collect 80-90 percent of the moneys owed without involving the alarm company in the process.”

Avondale assistant chief of police Lynn Parkin said there was hope of working together.

“The city is certainly still willing to consider concerns from the alarm industry. [They’ve] raised questions with the adopted ordinance that will be evaluated,” Parkin told SSN. “After the evaluation is complete, the City Attorney and the alarm industry’s attorney are planning to meet to discuss the matter.”

Arizona Alarm Association executive director Susan Brenton and Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Safeguard president John Jennings were also present at the March 7 meeting.

Comments

I agree consumers have to be protected from themselves...our CS does 2-call verification before calling the cops. But interestingly enough, the Police Chief in our city asked me if our CS would just call them first and not bother calling the homeowner at all, so they can get there ASAP. I told him he was rowing against the current, as everyone else wants more verification and he wants less. I doubt my competition would change, and we are not either.

<p>Thanks for the comment Mark. That certainly is interesting and different compared to other municipalities.</p>