Originally Published: January 25, 2018 6:02 a.m.
Come Feb. 23, users of security alarms in Prescott will have to register their alarm with the Prescott Police Department.
In a 5-2 vote Tuesday, Jan. 23, the Prescott City Council approved a measure that requires all alarm systems in the city to be registered – in a free, online system. Previously, the ordinance required registration only after police response to a first false alarm.
Earlier this month, Prescott Police Chief Debora Black told the council that the existing alarm ordinance resulted in registration information that was not being consistently updated.
The new ordinance requires security-alarm owners to update their registration through the police department’s online portal with contact information of the responsible party, along with any hazards located on the premises.
The revised ordinance also changes the fine structure for false-alarm offenders.
While the previous ordinance specified a warning on the second false alarm and a fine on the third, the new ordinance calls for a warning on the first offense and a $100 fine on the second. However, the new ordinance allows for waiver of that fee upon completion of an online class in how to reduce false alarms. The class is available through the police department’s web-based portal.
The ordinance also calls for $100 fines for each of the third, fourth, and fifth false alarms. And the ordinance specifies, “Upon receipt of the fifth false alarm,” the police department will suspend response to the property, except in cases of verified criminal activity or need for emergency services. Lead Police Officer David Fuller explained that the police department would not respond automatically upon receipt of the fifth false alarm, but would require verification that a crime is going on at the site.
The ordinance adds that if the alarm user or responsible party cannot be reached or does not arrive at the scene, the police have no further obligation to remain and secure the site.
Black previously told the council that the changes were being suggested in an attempt to reduce the number of false alarms in the city. During 2017, the police department responded to about 2,200 false alarms, which amounted to 99.8 percent of the alarm calls to which the department responded.
Council members appeared supportive of the changes two weeks ago, and this week’s agenda included the ordinance change among its consent items, which typically are non-controversial matters that are approved by a single council vote.
But Councilman Jim Lamerson asked to have the ordinance change removed from the consent agenda, noting that he opposed the false-alarm ordinance when it was originally imposed, and he continues to oppose it.
“I see an alarm as a piece of personal property,” Lamerson said, adding that the ordinance on false alarms is “a private property rights issue for me.”
Councilman Steve Blair joined Lamerson in voting against the new ordinance at Tuesday’s meeting.
More information is available on the city’s website at: www.cityofprescott.net/services/police. The department suggests those with questions to contact the false alarm department at 928-777-1900 or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.