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Sat, Nov. 16

Police extend False Alarm Reduction Program grace period, are fixing glitch

Trib file graphic

Trib file graphic

The Prescott Valley Police Department extended its grace period on the False Alarm Reduction Program for several days last week because of a technical hitch.

The enforcement of the ordinance begins Monday.

"It was an issue with the transfer of data from our dispatch center to the public safety corporation," Cmdr. James Edelstein said, adding that the glitch had nothing to do with the actual program. "Everything is functioning as it should be."

Prescott Valley officers respond to more than 1,000 false alarm calls each year. Less than one percent of these calls were found to be actual criminal events, according to a department press release.

The Town Council approved the false alarm ordinance, which is designed to cut down on false alarm calls received by police dispatch while generating estimated revenue between $4,000 and $6,000 in civil fines annually to the Town.

At a past meeting, Edelstein explained that those fees are a way to recover the costs associated with sending officers to false alarm calls when no criminal activity has taken place.

Violators would pay a $52 fee after the second and subsequent false alarms over a one-year period. If the alarm user passes an online alarm prevention course, the second alarm within a one-year period may be waived.

Edelstein said the false alarm management system, otherwise known as operation "Cry Wolf" dovetails easily with the police department's CAD system, through an interactive web-based application that will allow for easy citizen access, he explained. As the system's administrator, Edelstein will control and review the efforts in reducing false alarms.

In addition, after a first false alarm incident, citizens may register their alarms by mail, telephone or via a dedicated Web site, which will include false alarm reduction tips, a review of the ordinance and appeal requirements.

In fiscal year 2012-13, the Prescott Valley Police Department spent nearly 700 hours responding to false alarms. The False Alarm Reduction Program may allow the department to recover more than 300 hours of patrol time in the first full year of the code's enforcement, according to a report.

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