Town considers plan to drive down false alarms
No one disputes the reality that Stallings Police and Fire Departments respond to a number of false alarm calls. So far this year, in fact, officers have responded to more than 200 false alarms. Coming up with solutions for what to do about it is the job of the town’s Public Safety Advisory Committee, who recently went back to the drawing board to draft an ordinance to drive down false alarm calls.
Responding to these calls is “exceedingly expensive to the fire department as well as the police department,” Town Councilman Reed Esarove said, noting fire trucks are a finite resource, much more so than police cars. Esarove serves as one of two council liaisons, along with Wyatt Dunn, to the committee.
In drafting a potential ordinance, the committee sought the counsel of experts and worked closely with retired Charlotte Mecklenburg Deputy Police Chief Glen Mowry, now a National Law Enforcement Liaison with the Security Industry Alarm Coalition. “He is the end all be all resource when it comes to alarm ordinances and municipalities and travels all over the country as a consultant on this topic,” Esarove explained, adding that Mowry’s input had been instrumental in crafting the ordinance.
In other towns, alarm ordinances require businesses and residences to register their alarms with the municipality. Once registered, it is possible to determine how many alarms exist and which have preponderance for false alarms. Many towns also work with alarm monitoring companies who have policies and procedures in place to help mitigate false alarms.
In Esarove’s opinion, “the ordinance needs some teeth to it.” While he has not seen the final draft, he claims it will likely contain language of a graduated scaled fee based on false alarm incidents. The draft also contains estimates around the costs of outsourcing alarm monitoring versus monitoring in-house.
A work in progress, the ordinance is slated for council review in a month’s time.
“We are basically giving them a ball bark estimate of how an alarm ordinance can be managed and the costs associated with it,” Esarove said. “The Council will need to wrestle with it and determine if the time is right to consider an ordinance now.”
Noting that the “tipping point has not yet been derived,” Esarove pointed out that the council may decide to review the draft and table it for now.