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Fees for False Alarms OKd

September 22, 2004|Jessica Garrison | Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles City Council members Tuesday unanimously approved fees for false burglar alarms, agreeing to charge residents $115 the first time police respond.

The fees will increase $50 for each additional false alarm.

Alarm companies immediately protested that the fees were too high.

"I believe the fine is punitive," said George Gunning, of the Greater Los Angeles Security Alarm Assn.

The city's response to burglar alarms has been hotly debated for nearly two years.

In January 2003, the city Police Commission said it wanted police to stop responding to burglar alarms unless they had been verified as genuine emergencies by property owners or a private security company. More than 90% of the city's burglar alarms are false.

But some council members, at the urging of residents and alarm companies, rejected that policy as an invitation to thieves.

Instead, they drafted the compromise, which has been in effect since January. After two false alarms, residents must verify that they have an emergency before police will dispatch a squad car.

In addition, council members adopted the fees for false alarms.

Gunning said some alarm companies plan to alert their customers to protest the fees.

But many council members said they viewed the high fees as an incentive for homeowners to ensure that their alarms were working properly.

"The ultimate goal is to reduce false alarms," said Councilwoman Janice Hahn, who spearheaded the council's revamp of the burglar alarm laws. "When you pay a high fee, you're going to make sure your system is operating properly," she said.

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