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Mon, Nov. 18

Continued false alarms could bring higher fines

Courtesy photo

Courtesy photo

Prescott Valley is looking at ways to stop the flood of false alarms that keep police running, but rarely for actual crimes.

The Town Council on Thursday expressed support for one option that Interim Police Chief James Edelstein proposed: a warning followed by a civil fine of $52 for the next violation.

If adopted by the council, it would be more punitive than what the current town code provides: a criminal penalty after more than two false alarms in the same month; the existing penalty increases to as high as $24 if the incidents recur repeatedly in the same month.

Edelstein brought the issue to the council's attention Aug. 15 and returned Thursday to obtain direction. He suggested a contract with AOT Public Safety Corp. in Waldorf, Md.

One piece of a proposed contract is a cost-sharing model, Edelstein said. He proposed a 30-day instead of six-month grace period before violators face any penalties.

Edelstein said each alarm costs the police department about $50.20.

Councilman Michael Whiting said he favors the recommendation that Edelstein proposed in the first of four options: creating a civil fine and registration process for those who have false alarms. The option also calls for requiring an alarm company to make two phone calls before contacting the police department and for the town to enforce the code through a third-party vendor.

"I don't see a rationale to extend it to six months," Whiting said.

Edelstein issued a report stating police responded to approximately 1,200 calls for burglary and robbery alarms from homes and businesses each year for the past decade. Actual crimes accounted for fewer than 1 percent of the calls.

Whiting called for more responsibility on the part of businesses and homeowners.

"I would support the one-month grace period," he said.

The one-month grace period also drew support from council members Stephen Marshall, Mary Mallory and Rick Anderson.

Anderson also concurred with Whiting's support of the first option.

Councilman Marty Grossman expressed support for a one-month grace period as well. He said alarm companies should be held accountable.

Some alarm companies do not have the best business practices, Edelstein said. He said he will return to the council with a proposed ordinance by late November.

Mayor Harvey Skoog did not attend the council work/study meeting.

Also during the meeting, Public Works Director Norm Davis talked about replacing stop and other traffic signs with reflective signs to increase public safety.

He reported the Arizona Department of Transportation received a bid exceeding $1 million from Sunline Contracting of Phoenix to replace signs for public agencies within the jurisdiction of the Central Yavapai Metropolitan Planning Organization. Prescott Valley will be eligible for replacing 1,678 signs for an approximate value of $400,000, with no direct costs to the town.

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