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False Alarms from Residential Security Systems a Growing Concern in LA

June 14, 2013
The monitoring service is an important aspect of all residential security systems. Alarm response must be precise. If an actual event occurs, a call must be placed promptly to the appropriate emergency services. If an alarm is false, it must not be passed through to local authorities because that diminishes their ability to respond to actual events in a timely manner.

False Alarms a Growing Issue in LA
Los Angeles is a prime example of a police force that is hindered greatly by the growing rise of false alarms. The LAPD estimates that more than 11 percent of its patrol force is wasted on false alarms, including those made by alarm companies. Recent predictions estimate that the number will grow sharply in the next five years if the root problem is not curbed.

City Levies Fines to Curb Problem
Los Angeles has alarm ordinances in place. In fact, one must register a monitored alarm system and obtain a permit before activating the system. Failure to do so can result in a $1,000 fine. Since that ordinance alone did not curb the problem, LA added a new ordinance that requires citizens to pay $159 for a false alarm.

The ordinance also requires additional fees from repeat offenders. In fact, the fine increases $50 with each occurrence, and there is no upper limit to the fine amount. For residential security systems without a valid permit, the base fine is $259, and it escalates in $100 increments.

Responsibility Falls on the Homeowner
It’s important to note that the responsibility for a false alarm falls on the person who subscribes to the monitoring service. The alarm companies and monitoring stations are not held directly accountable, but most have a guarantee in place that covers the cost of the fine if the reporting of the false alarm was a mistake made by its employee.

Appealing a False Alarm Fee
Citizens do have the option to appeal the false alarm fee and can do so in writing to the Board of Police Commissioners. The board will waive the fee if the fined party can demonstrate that there was criminal activity or that the false alarm was caused, directly or indirectly, by an act of nature, such as fire, power failure, earthquake, strong winds and so forth.

Alarm School
If an appeal is denied or not an option, offenders can attend alarm school instead of paying the fine. The alarm school is an in-person class that citizens are allowed to take once every 365 days. In other words, it’s possible to avoid a false alarm fine once every year.

Owners of residential security systems may also avoid the fine by attending the online alarm school. For the online class, citizens must register within 75 days of the invoice date. Beyond that point, online alarm school will not be available but the standard alarm school may still be.

A second alternative is home-based alarm school. This is similar to the online school except that the packet is printed and mailed to you and then mailed back when completed. You can opt in for the home study can occur Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., except on holidays.​ ​