Sheriff Dave Weaver (third frrom the left) and Deputies in the DCSO Community Resources Division meet with community advocates to discuss the new proposed alarm ordinance. (photo by Terri Wiebold)
by Terri Wiebold
Residents and businesses in Castle Pines North and throughout Douglas County who contract with a private security company may be paying more for burglar alarm services in the near future. As of press time, a new burglar alarm ordinance proposed by the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO) was set to be presented to the Douglas County Commissioners.
According to the DCSO, only about 10 percent of the residents and business owners of Douglas County contract with private alarm companies. And yet, from January 2005 to December 2007, the DCSO responded to 17,504 alarms, of which only 56 were legitimate concerns.
Alarm calls represent nearly 11 percent of the calls for service received by the DCSO, at an estimated annual cost of more than $200,000 to taxpayers. Historically about 99 percent of the alarms are false.
“Douglas County deputies spend too much time responding to residential and commercial burglar alarms that do not represent an intrusion or uncover criminal activity,” said Deputy Ron Hanavan of the DCSO Community Resources Division. “This ordinance is necessary to reduce the number of false alarms and to establish a law enforcement response policy that is both expeditious and fiscally responsible.”
According to Hanavan, the purpose of the new ordinance is to decrease false alarms, to better utilize available resources by maximizing manpower, and to effectively communicate with all alarm users.
Hanavan presented the information to CPN residents at the Master Association meeting on January 17, before submitting the proposed ordinance to the Douglas County Commissioners on January 23 for approval.
The proposed ordinance requires all alarm users to register with the county and to pay an annual registration fee of $60 for the administration of the program by a third party company or by sheriff’s office clerks. The fee would also be used to offset some of the expenses incurred by the DCSO in responding to alarms.
Additionally, this registration would create a database for the sheriff’s office to identify which businesses and residents have an alarm, and to provide specific contact information for the alarm location. This information can be critical for deputies responding to an alarm call.
The proposed ordinance stipulates that there would be no additional fines or penalties for the first four false alarms, not including false hold-up, panic, or robbery alarms. After that, instead of a fine, the alarm user would be required to fix the problem with the alarm and re-register the system.
The DCSO concludes that the adoption of this ordinance would provide several immediate benefits and enhancements:
Registration would provide the sheriff’s office with a database of alarm users in Douglas County
Having an alarm user database would expedite law enforcement response by eliminating time consuming data entry at the time of the first alarm
The Enhanced Call Verification element of the ordinance would reduce demands on law enforcement resources by requiring two attempts at contact by the alarm company prior to law enforcement response
Revenue generated by the registration fee would fund additional law enforcement resources to meet the demand of alarm responses.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office advocates the costs associated with responding to alarms should be the fiscal responsibility of the alarm owners.
To learn more about the proposed ordinance, contact Deputy Ron Hanavan or Deputy Chad Teller with the Community Resource Unit at 303-660-7544. To review the ordinance in its entirety, go to: http://www.dcsheriff.net/ and click on “Proposed False Alarm Ordinance.”