New County Alarm Ordinance in Effect
by Terri Wiebold
On March 8, 2008, a new alarm ordinance went into effect for residents of unincorporated Douglas County, Larkspur, and Castle Pines North (CPN). The ordinance was designed to reduce the number of false alarms in Douglas County and to assist the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO) in being more efficient with law enforcement services and resources.
Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputy Ron Hanavan presented the first reading of the ordinance to CPN residents at a community meeting in January. Based on feedback from the community and the Douglas County Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC), the DCSO made several changes to the ordinance prior to its approval by the Board of County Commissioners.
The ordinance, which is endorsed by the alarm industry, requires users who have an alarm that is monitored by an alarm company to pay an annual alarm registration fee of $40. Revenues generated will pay for the administration of the program by a third party company and will help to offset some of the expenses the DCSO incurs in responding to false alarms.
“The bottom line is that we need more cops on the street chasing bad guys,” said Douglas County Sheriff David Weaver. “This alarm ordinance will allow our resources to be used where we need them most, and that is not responding to false alarms.”
According to Hanavan, from January 2005 to December 2007, the DCSO responded to 17,504 alarms, of which only 56 were legitimate. Alarm calls represent nearly 11 percent of the department’s calls for service, at an estimated annual cost of more than $200,000 to taxpayers. Historically about 99 percent of the alarms are false.
The ordinance stipulates that there will be no fines or penalties for a user’s first two false alarms. After that, rather than a fine, the alarm user will be required to fix the problem with the alarm and re-register the system along with paying a $100 reinstatement fee.
The ordinance also requires alarm monitoring companies to utilize the Enhanced Call Verification (ECV) system. ECV necessitates monitoring companies to call at least two contact numbers of the alarm user to verify that there is a problem and that a police response is needed.
At this point, the way the DCSO responds to alarms has not changed.
What does this mean for alarm owners/users?
Residents who are alarm owners do not have to do anything to register an alarm. Alarm monitoring companies are responsible for the registration with the DCSO, and have a 60-day period (after March 8) to do so.
The DCSO is in the process of educating alarm monitoring companies about the ordinance and its requirements, as well as researching third-party alarm administration companies. The DCSO also has 90 days to write the exact wording for an exemption clause in the ordinance for seniors.
To view the ordinance in its entirety, go to www.dcsheriff.net. For questions about the alarm ordinance, call Deputy Ron Hanavan with the Community Resource Unit at 303-660-7544.