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6:16 AM Sat, Oct. 20th

Prescott Valley to begin fines for false automatic alarms

PRESCOTT VALLEY - Starting next month, the Town of Prescott Valley will begin issuing fines for false automatic alarms in an effort to reduce them by at least 50 percent, a police spokesman said.

The program, to be operated by the Public Safety Corporation, which has been contracted to administer it, will begin Feb. 20, Sgt. Brandon Bonney said. After that date, locations that send a false alarm to police will have to register their alarm systems.

If there's a second or third false alarm activation within a year, the owner will be charged $52. The owner can take an online course on false alarm prevention and the fine for the second activation will be waived, Bonney said.

The new town code also requires alarm monitoring stations to call two phone numbers in an effort to check with a responsible party before calling police.

PSC will begin issuing warning letters beginning Monday, warning that future false alarms will result in fines.

Bonney said that, for fiscal year 2012-13, PV Police spent almost 700 hours responding to false alarms, and "less than one percent (of alarm calls) were found to be actual criminal events." The department "hopes to recover 300-plus hours of patrol time in the first full year of enforcement of this code," he added.

Commander James Edelstein, who will work with PSC, said, "Unlike many other jurisdictions, we chose only to impact those residents and community members who have false alarms with mandatory registration. The system is built to encourage the responsible use of alarms."

In July 2011, the City of Prescott implemented an ordinance that imposed $100 fines for owners of security alarm systems after two false-alarm warnings, according to Courier story archives on dCourier.com. When the police department initially took the issue to the council in 2010, it reported that officers were responding to nearly 3,000 false alarms per year, resulting in hundreds of hours a year in time spent on non-emergency situations.

Since then, the number of false alarms in the city has dropped by about 30 percent, Prescott Deputy Police Chief Andy Reinhardt told the City Council in 2013. In August, the council approved some changes to the ordinance.