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Alarming increase in fines, fees Robert Moreno | Sat, Jul 19 2014 12:00 PM

A new ordinance aimed at re­­ducing the number of false alarms by home security systems went into effect this month.

The security alarm ordinance provides several changes to the way the Chula Vista Police Department handles false alarms made by security systems for homes and businesses.

The first false alarm violation comes with a $100 fine, which can be waived if the permit holder obtains proof of completion of a false alarm awareness course.

The waived violation still counts toward the permitted site’s false alarm count for subsequent false alarm violations.

A second violation costs $200 if it’s within a year of the first false report and any additional violation within the same year carries a $500 fine.

Security permits for residential and busines units are $28.75.

Sandra Huster, co-owner of Standlee’s Cake, Candy and Cookie Supplies, said she was recently notified about the ordinance and can see why such an ordinance is needed but can’t understand why the fees are so high.

“That’s a lot of money,” she said about the escalating fine scale. 

She said fines should start off at $50 then gradually escalate after that.

Huster also said taxes should in part pay for the police department’s services, even if that is responding to false alarms.

Huster doesn’t recall if police had ever responded to a false alarm call at her business.

The major difference in the ordinance is that a site can be placed in a verified response mode after a fourth false alarm.

“That’s the big change,” said Chula Vista Police Capt. Gary Ficacci.

With a site on verified response mode the CVPD will only respond to an alarm after a person on-site calls in a suspicious crime.

The changes come after a high number of reported false alarms in the city of Chula Vista.

“Over the last several years we’ve had over 5,000 false alarms,” Ficacci said. “So we expect to reduce that number significantly.”

According to statistics compiled by the police department, 5,614 false alarms were responded to in 2011.

In 2012, police response to false alarms dipped to 5,401.

And just last year, 5,234 false alarms were reported.

Ficacci said the numbers for this month are still being gathered.

Ficacci also said that he doesn’t expect the new ordinance to have an “immediate effect on the numbers” but as the program progresses he said there would be a significant reduction in false alarms.

Common reasons for false alarms, Ficacci said, are operator error, faulty equipment, bad installation and sometimes pets.

Ficacci said other jurisdictions in Washington and Nevada saw a reduction of 40 to 80 percent in false alarm responses.

Councilwoman Pamela Bensoussan said the new ordinance would not only save the city money but makes police officers available to fight crime.

“False alarms were an enormous cost to the city,” she said. “This is something that creates more efficiency so that frees up officers to address public safety.”

The police department also entered into a contract with PMAM Corporation to administer the program.

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