NEW LONDON, Conn. — Under a new ordinance approved by the City Council here fines of up to $250 for false alarms will be imposed in an effort to curb a preponderance of unnecessary police dispatches.
New London police responded to 1,874 non-fire alarms in 2018 of which more than 99% were false alarms, according to police department statistics. Only six in all were for a legitimate reason and required a police report.
New London Crime Prevention Officer Ryan Soccio told The Day the department responds to alarms with at least two officers on every call to conduct a property check and estimates it cost the department $32,795 in manpower hours alone in 2018. There were 1,909 alarm responses in 2017, 14 of which were considered legitimate calls.
In addition to the cost, New London Police Capt. Brian Wright told the newspaper the false alarms pull officers from their proactive patrols for an average of 15 minutes per call often to find a malfunctioning system or cleaning person without an updated security code. On many occasions officers are on scene longer trying to get in touch with a keyholder.
“False alarms are costly and dangerous and could delay responses to real emergencies,” Wright said. “Every time one comes in, an officer gets tied up for what could be a good period of time.”
The new ordinance passed unanimously by the City Council imposes fines and updates an antiquated ordinance that did not provide a mechanism for registering alarms, Councilor Alma Nartatez, chairwoman of the public safety committee, told the newspaper.
“This is just one of the many ordinances that will be updated and make stakeholders more accountable,” Nartatez said.
The first two false alarms get a free pass while a $100 fine will be imposed for the third, $150 for a fourth, $200 for the fifth and $250 for every subsequent.
The city has contracted with CryWolf Alarm Management Services to manage the program and collect fines. There is no cost to register an alarm system, but there will be a $100 fine if police respond to an unregistered alarm. Registrations will be done online through a website maintained by CryWolf, in conjunction with the city.
A start date for the program has not been determined, but Nartatez said there will be a concerted effort by the city to communicate with the public before its implementation.
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