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• Des Moines, WA-Chapter 9.10-ALARM SYSTEMS AND FALSE ALARMS

Des Moines, WA-Chapter 9.10-ALARM SYSTEMS AND FALSE ALARMS

Chapter 9.10
ALARM SYSTEMS AND
FALSE ALARMS

Sections

9.10.010    Purpose.

9.10.020    Definitions.

9.10.030    Registration required – Application – Fee – Transferability – False statements.

9.10.040    Alarm systems in apartment complexes.

9.10.050    Registration duration and renewal.

9.10.060    Duties of the alarm user.

9.10.070    Duties of alarm company.

9.10.080    Duties of the alarm administrator.

9.10.090    Enforcement and penalties.

9.10.100    Suspension of response.

9.10.110    Notification.

9.10.120    Appeals.

9.10.130    Reinstatement.

9.10.140    Confidentiality.

9.10.010 Purpose.

The purpose of this chapter is to encourage alarm users and alarm companies to properly use and maintain alarm systems and to reduce or eliminate false alarms which may unduly divert law enforcement from responding to criminal activity. [Ord. 1360 § 1, 2005.]

9.10.020 Definitions.

(1) Use of Words and Phrases. As used in this chapter, unless the context or subject matter clearly requires otherwise, the words or phrases defined in this section shall have the indicated meanings.

(2) “Alarm administrator” means a person or persons designated by the city of Des Moines chief of police to administer the city’s false alarm reduction program.

(3) “Alarm company” means the business, by an individual, partnership, corporation or other entity, of selling, leasing, maintaining, servicing, repairing, altering, replacing, moving, installing or monitoring an alarm system in an alarm site.

(4) “Alarm dispatch request” means a notification to a law enforcement agency that an alarm, either manual or automatic, has been activated at a particular alarm site.

(5) “Alarm registration” means the notification by an alarm company or an alarm user to the alarm administrator that an alarm system has been installed and is in use.

(6) “Alarm site” means a single fixed premises or location served by an alarm system or systems. Each tenancy, if served by a separate alarm system in a multi-tenant building or complex, shall be considered a separate alarm site.

(7) “Alarm system” means a device or series of devices which emit or transmit a remote or local audible, visual or electronic signal indicating an alarm condition that is intended to or causes law enforcement service to be summoned.

(8) “Alarm user” means any person, firm, partnership, corporation or other entity, other than a public law enforcement agency, who (which) uses or is in control of any alarm system at its alarm site.

(9) “Alarm user awareness class” means a class conducted by any municipality or law enforcement agency for the purpose of educating alarm users about the problems created by false alarms and responsible use and operation of alarm systems.

(10) “Cancellation” or “responding agency alarm dispatch cancellation” is the process by which an alarm company providing monitoring verifies with the alarm user or responsible party that a false dispatch has occurred and that there is not an existing situation at the alarm site requiring law enforcement agency response.

(11) “Conversion” means the transaction or process by which one alarm company begins monitoring of a previously unmonitored alarm system or an alarm system previously monitored by another alarm company.

(12) “Duress alarm” means a silent alarm system signal generated by the manual activation of a device intended to signal a life threatening situation or a crime in progress requiring law enforcement response.

(13) “False alarm” means an alarm dispatch request to a law enforcement agency, when the responding officer finds no evidence of a criminal offense or attempted criminal offense after having completed a timely investigation of the alarm site.

(14) “Holdup alarm” means a silent alarm signal generated by the manual activation of a device intended to signal a robbery in progress.

(15) “Keypad” means a device that allows control of an alarm system by the manual entering of a coded sequence of numbers or letters.

(16) “Local alarm system” means any alarm system that annunciates an alarm only by an internal or external audio device.

(17) “Monitoring” means the process by which an alarm company receives signals from an alarm system and relays an alarm dispatch request to the city for the purpose of summoning law enforcement response to the alarm site.

(18) “Panic” means an audible alarm system signal generated by the manual activation of a device intended to signal a life threatening or emergency situation requiring law enforcement response.

(19) “Person” means an individual, corporation, partnership, association, organization or similar entity.

(20) “Revocation” means the cancellation and invalidation of an alarm registration.

(21) “Suspension” or “suspension of response” means that law enforcement will not respond to an alarm or to an alarm site even though an alarm dispatch request is received by law enforcement.

(22) “Takeover” means the transaction or process by which an alarm user takes over control of an existing alarm system, which was previously controlled by another alarm user.

(23) “Verify” means an attempt, by the alarm company or its representative, to contact the alarm site by telephonic or other electronic means, whether or not actual contact with a person is made, before requesting law enforcement dispatch, in an attempt to avoid an unnecessary alarm dispatch request.

(24) “Zones” are subdivisions into which an alarm system is divided to indicate the general location from which an alarm system signal is transmitted. [Ord. 1360 § 2, 2005.]

9.10.030 Registration required – Application – Fee – Transferability – False statements.

(1) After 60 days from the effective date of the ordinance codified in this chapter, no alarm user shall operate, or cause to be operated, an alarm system at its alarm site without a valid alarm registration issued by the alarm administrator. A separate registration is required for each alarm site.

(2) For those alarm systems in existence on the effective date of the ordinance codified in this chapter, the initial annual registration and fee for each alarm system must be submitted to the alarm administrator within 60 days of the effective date of the ordinance codified in this chapter.

(3) For new alarm system installations and alarm takeovers, the initial annual registration and fee for each alarm system must be submitted within five days after the alarm installation or alarm takeover.

(4) The registration fee for the year starting January 2005 shall be:

Initial alarm registration

$25.00

Renewal of alarm registration

$25.00

Late fee (after 30 days)

$25.00

(5) The registration and renewal fees for the years 2006 and thereafter shall be set by the city manager based upon the recommendation of the city of Des Moines police chief, whose recommendation shall be based upon the actual costs of administration and enforcement of the alarm registration program.

(6) Upon receipt of a completed application form and the alarm registration fee, the alarm administrator shall register the applicant unless the applicant has:

(a) Failed to pay a fine assessed under this chapter; or

(b) Had an alarm registration for the alarm site suspended or revoked, and the violation causing the suspension or revocation has not been corrected.

(7) Each alarm registration application shall be on a form approved by the city of Des Moines chief of police and shall provide such information and signed assurances as the chief deems necessary to carry out the intent and purposes of this chapter.

(8) Each alarm registration and renewal shall require a signed acknowledgment by the alarm user of the following:

Registration of an alarm system is not intended to, nor will it, create a contract, duty or obligation, either expressed or implied, of response by the City of Des Moines Police Department. Any and all liability and consequential damage resulting from the failure to respond to a notification is hereby disclaimed and governmental immunity as provided by law is retained. By registering an alarm system, the alarm user acknowledges that police response may be based on many factors, including but not limited to availability of police units, priority of calls, weather conditions, traffic conditions, emergency conditions, and staffing levels.

(9) Any false statement of a material fact made by an applicant for the purpose of obtaining an alarm registration shall be sufficient cause for refusal to issue or to revoke a registration.

(10) An alarm registration cannot be transferred to another person or alarm site. An alarm user shall inform the alarm administrator, within five business days, of any change that alters any information listed on the registration application.

(11) All fees owed by an applicant must be paid before a registration may be issued or renewed. [Ord. 1360 § 3, 2005.]

9.10.040 Alarm systems in apartment complexes.

(1) A tenant of an apartment with an alarm system shall obtain an alarm registration from the alarm administrator before operating or causing the operation of an alarm system in the tenant’s residential unit. The owner or property manager of an apartment complex shall obtain a separate alarm registration for any alarm system operated in offices or common areas of the apartment complex. The annual fee for these registrations or the renewal of these registrations shall be the same as the fee for a residential alarm site.

(2) If an alarm system installed by an individual tenant in an apartment complex unit is monitored, the tenant must provide the name of a representative of the apartment owner or property manager who can grant access to the apartment to the alarm company.

(3) For purposes of enforcing this chapter against an individual residential unit, the tenant is responsible for false alarms emitted from the alarm system in the tenant’s residential unit.

(4) Each apartment unit shall be considered an alarm site. [Ord. 1360 § 4, 2005.]

9.10.050 Registration duration and renewal.

A registration shall expire one year from the date of issuance, and must be renewed annually by submitting an updated application and a registration renewal fee to the alarm administrator. The alarm administrator shall notify each alarm user of the need to renew 30 days prior to the expiration of the registration. It is the responsibility of the alarm user to submit an application prior to the registration expiration date. [Ord. 1360 § 5, 2005.]

9.10.060 Duties of the alarm user.

(1) An alarm user shall maintain the premises and the alarm system in a manner that will minimize or eliminate false alarms, and shall make every reasonable effort to respond or cause a representative to respond to the alarm system’s location within 30 minutes when notified by the city to deactivate a malfunctioning alarm system, to provide access to the premises, or to provide alternative security for the premises.

(2) An alarm user shall not manually activate an alarm for any reason other than an occurrence of an event that the alarm system was intended to report.

(3) An alarm user shall adjust the alarm system or cause the alarm system to be adjusted so that an alarm signal audible on the exterior of an alarm site will sound for no longer than 15 minutes after being activated.

(4) An alarm user shall have an alarm company inspect the alarm system after two false alarms in a one-year period from the date of registration issuance or renewal. The alarm administrator may waive an inspection requirement if it is determined that a false alarm could not have been related to a defect or malfunction in the alarm system. After four false alarms within a one-year period from the date of registration issuance or renewal the alarm user must have a properly licensed alarm company modify the alarm system to be more false alarm resistant or provide additional user training as appropriate. [Ord. 1360 § 6, 2005.]

9.10.070 Duties of alarm company.

(1) Any alarm company that sells, leases, maintains, services, repairs, alters, replaces, moves, installs or monitors an alarm system at an alarm site within the city of Des Moines shall obtain a city of Des Moines business license in accordance with chapter 5.04 DMMC.

(2) Alarm companies shall use control panels tested for conformance to the Security Industry Association (SIA) Control Panel Standard – Features for False Alarm Reduction.

(3) After completion of the installation an alarm company employee shall review with the alarm user the “Customer False Alarm Prevention Checklist” approved by the alarm administrator.

(4) An alarm company performing monitoring services shall:

(a) Notify the alarm user of the need to register the alarm system;

(b) Offer a training period in which no request for dispatch by law enforcement will occur during the first seven days after installation of an alarm system, but rather will use that week to train the alarm user on proper use of the alarm system unless circumstances necessitate immediate requests for response as determined by the alarm administrator;

(c) Report alarm signals by using telephone numbers designated by the alarm administrator;

(d) Utilize mandatory enhanced call verification for every alarm signal, except a duress and holdup alarm activation, by making a minimum of two calls to attempt to verify an alarm prior to requesting a police response. The first call shall be to the premises protected by the activated alarm. The second call shall be to a separate off-site number such as the mobile telephone of the owner or manager of the property;

(e) Designate an alarm company contact person, including the person’s name, telephone number and e-mail address, for the alarm administrator. The contact person must be knowledgeable about alarm ordinances and have the authority to make decisions and respond to the requests of the alarm administrator;

(f) Prepare and submit to the alarm administrator a quarterly written report listing all alarm users, alarm sites, addresses and telephone numbers for which the alarm company provides monitoring services for alarms regulated by this chapter;

(g) Communicate alarm dispatch requests to the city police department in a manner and form determined by the alarm administrator;

(h) Communicate cancellations to the city police department in a manner and form determined by the alarm administrator;

(i) Ensure that all alarm users of alarm systems equipped with a duress or holdup alarm are given adequate training as to the proper use of the duress or holdup alarm;

(j) Communicate any available information (north, south, front, back, floor, etc.) about the location of the alarm;

(k) Communicate type of alarm activation (silent or audible, interior or perimeter);

(l) Provide alarm user registration number when requesting dispatch;

(m) Endeavor to contact the alarm user when an alarm dispatch request is made; and

(n) Maintain, for a period of at least one year, records relating to an alarm dispatch request. Records must include the name, address and phone number of the alarm user, the alarm system zone(s) activated, the time of the alarm dispatch request and evidence of an attempt to verify. The alarm administrator may request copies of such records for individually named alarm users. [Ord. 1379 § 1, 2006: Ord. 1360 § 7, 2005.]

9.10.080 Duties of the alarm administrator.

(1) The alarm administrator shall:

(a) Designate a manner, form and telephone numbers for communication of alarm dispatch requests; and

(b) Establish a procedure to accept cancellation of alarm dispatch requests.

(2) The alarm administrator shall establish a procedure to record such information on alarm dispatch requests necessary to permit the alarm administrator to maintain records, including, but not limited to, the following information:

(a) Identification of the registration number for the alarm site;

(b) Identification of the alarm site;

(c) Date and time the alarm dispatch request was received;

(d) Date and time of law enforcement officer arrival at the alarm site;

(e) Zone, if available;

(f) Name of alarm user’s representative on-premises, if any;

(g) Identification of the responsible alarm company; and

(h) Cause of alarm, if known.

(3) The alarm administrator shall establish a procedure for the notification to the alarm user of a false alarm. The notice shall include the following information:

(a) The date and time of law enforcement response to the false alarm;

(b) The identification number of the responding law enforcement officer; and

(c) Such other notices, requirements and procedures as deemed necessary by the city of Des Moines chief of police to carry out the intent and purposes of this chapter.

(4) If there is reason to believe that an alarm system is not being used or maintained in a manner that ensures proper operation and suppresses false alarms, the alarm administrator may require a conference with an alarm user and the alarm company responsible for the repair of the alarm system to review the circumstances of each false alarm.

(5) The alarm administrator shall oversee the creation and implementation of an alarm user awareness class. The alarm administrator may request the assistance of alarm companies and a law enforcement agency in developing and implementing the class. The class shall inform alarm users of the problems created by false alarms and teach alarm users how to operate their alarm systems without generating false alarms. [Ord. 1360 § 8, 2005.]

9.10.090 Enforcement and penalties.

(1) Any person operating a nonregistered alarm system (whether revoked, suspended or never acquired) will be subject to a $200.00 fine in addition to any other fines. Failure to renew will be classified as use of a nonregistered alarm system.

(2) An alarm user shall be subject to fines, warnings and suspension or revocation of registration depending on the number of false alarms emitted from an alarm system within a 12-month period from the date of registration or renewal.

(3) The fines for a false alarm for the year starting January 2006 shall be:

Number of False Alarms

Fines

1

0

2

0

3

$100.00

4 or more

$200.00 (each) or actual cost of response as deter-mined by chief of police

(4) The fines for the years 2007 and thereafter shall be determined by the city manager based upon the recommendation of the Des Moines police chief whose recommendation shall be based upon the actual costs of a two-officer response including dispatch fee and costs of administration.

(5) At the discretion of the alarm administrator, an alarm user may have the option of attending an alarm user awareness class in lieu of paying one prescribed fine.

(6) An alarm company will be subject to a $200.00 fine per event if the alarm administrator determines that the alarm company has failed to comply with any of the duties set forth in this chapter or that:

(a) The alarm company directly caused a false alarm. In this situation the fine will be assessed against the alarm company and will not be counted against the alarm user;

(b) There is a consistent pattern or written policy against verification;

(c) An alarm company employee made a false statement concerning the inspection of an alarm site or the performance of an alarm system; or

(d) An alarm company continues to request law enforcement dispatch to an alarm site after notification that the registration has been suspended or revoked and/or is subject to enforcement and penalties set forth in this chapter.

(7) Any due and unpaid alarm registration fee and all fines and penalties imposed by this chapter may be collected by civil action, which remedy shall be in addition to any and all other existing remedies and penalties. [Ord. 1379 § 2, 2006: Ord. 1360 § 9, 2005.]

9.10.100 Suspension of response.

(1) The alarm administrator may suspend alarm response if it is determined that:

(a) The alarm user has four or more false alarms in one year; or

(b) There is a false statement of a material fact in the application for a registration; or

(c) The alarm user has failed to make timely payment of a fee or fine assessed under this chapter; or

(d) The alarm user has failed to submit a written certification from an alarm company, that complies with the requirements of this chapter, stating that the alarm system has been inspected and repaired (if necessary) by the alarm company.

(2) Unless there is separate indication that there is a crime in progress, the police department may refuse law enforcement response to an alarm dispatch request at an alarm site for which the alarm registration is suspended.

(3) If the alarm registration is reinstated, the alarm administrator may suspend alarm response if it is determined that two false alarms have occurred within 60 days after the reinstatement date. [Ord. 1360 § 10, 2005.]

9.10.110 Notification.

(1) The alarm administrator shall notify the alarm user in writing after the first, second and third false alarms. The notification shall include:

(a) The amount of the fine for each false alarm;

(b) Notice that the alarm user can attend alarm user awareness class to waive a fine;

(c) The fact that response will be suspended after the fourth false alarm; and

(d) A description of the appeals procedure available to the alarm user.

(2) The alarm administrator will notify the alarm user and the alarm company in writing after the fourth false alarm that alarm response has been suspended. This notice of suspension will also include:

(a) The amount of the fine for each false alarm; and

(b) A description of the appeals procedure available to the alarm user and the alarm company. [Ord. 1360 § 11, 2005.]

9.10.120 Appeals.

(1) An alarm user or an alarm company may appeal the assessment of a fine or suspension to the alarm administrator. An appeal fee of $25.00 shall accompany the appeal. Appeal fees will be returned to [the] alarm user or the alarm company if the appeal is upheld. The filing of an appeal with the alarm administrator stays the assessment of the fine or suspension until the alarm administrator makes a final decision.

(2) The alarm user shall file a written appeal to the alarm administrator by setting forth the reasons for the appeal within 10 days after receipt of the fine.

(3) If the alarm administrator denies the issuance or renewal of an alarm registration, or suspends response, the alarm administrator shall send written notice of the action and a statement of the right to an appeal to either the applicant or alarm user and the alarm company.

(4) An alarm user or alarm company may appeal the decision of the alarm administrator to the city hearing examiner in accordance with chapter 18.94 DMMC. [Ord. 1379 § 3, 2006: Ord. 1360 § 12, 2005.]

9.10.130 Reinstatement.

A person whose alarm response has been suspended may have alarm response reinstated if the person has abided by the following:

(1) Submits an updated application and the registration fee;

(2) Pays, or otherwise resolves, all citations and fines;

(3) Submits a certification from an alarm company, that complies with the requirements of this chapter, stating that the alarm system has been inspected and repaired (if necessary) by the alarm company;

(4) Files with the alarm administrator a certificate showing that the alarm user has successfully completed the alarm user awareness class; and

(5) Pays an inspection and reinstatement fee of $25.00. [Ord. 1360 § 13, 2005.]

9.10.140 Confidentiality.

Information contained in registration applications and applications for appeals shall be held in confidence by all employees or representatives of the city and by any third-party administrator or employees of a third-party administrator with access to such information. [Ord. 1360 § 14, 2005.]