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Thu, July 18

Adjusted city alarm ordinance back on Prescott Council agenda

PRESCOTT - A city proposal to require security-alarm users to get an annual permit, even if they are not false-alarm offenders, continues to be a sticking point over a proposed new alarm ordinance.

The issue will be back before the City Council at 3 p.m. Tuesday, at Prescott City Hall, 201 S. Cortez St., to continue the discussion that the council tabled at its Aug. 31 meeting.

The matter has been under consideration for much of the summer, in an attempt to cut down on the nearly 3,000 false alarms that the Prescott Police Department responds to each year.

At issue during the August discussion of a proposed ordinance was the $15 annual registration fee that the police department was proposing for all owners of security alarm systems in the city.

Since then, a sub-committee consisting of council members Jim Lamerson, Tammy Linn, and Mary Ann Suttles has been meeting to try to work out some of the issues that arose during the previous meeting.

In response, the police department has proposed some changes to the ordinance to try to allay the council concerns. For instance, the new proposal would call for alarm users to pay the $15 permit fee only once. After the first year, the registration would be free, as long the permit had not expired beyond 30 days of the expiration date.

In addition, the new proposal would not require permits for "proprietary alarms" - those that would not trigger a police response, but rather depended solely on the user or his security force.

But despite the proposed changes, Lamerson still had strong objections to portions of the alarm ordinance.

"I have significant amounts of skepticism," Lamerson said during a meeting of the sub-committee this past Wednesday. "I don't agree with what's being proposed."

Lamerson maintained that the regular false-alarm offenders should be bearing the brunt of the new regulations - not all alarm users.

"I don't have a problem with paying for false alarms," Lamerson said of the ordinance's proposal to charge offenders $100 for the third false alarm, with each subsequent offense going up by $100. "The issue is - we had 2,700 false alarms. Find those people."

Linn also voiced concerns about the proposed approach, suggesting that the police department try to "identify the frequent flyers."

She added: "I've had a lot of calls from people asking, 'why should I be penalized?'"

Police Chief Mike Kabbel pointed out that the proposed ordinance came from research of other communities' experiences.

"We didn't just make this ordinance up," Kabbel told the sub-committee. "We're taking it from other cities that have systems that are working."

And Suttles pushed for moving forward in an effort to solve a problem that has existed for years.

"We've been discussing this since I've been on council," Suttles said. "This (the police department's latest adjustments) clears it up for me. I think it needs to go back to council."

If the council does decide to adjust the ordinance again before approving it, City Manager Steve Norwood said it could be back for further consideration in October.


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