Chapter 12. False Alarms and Imposition of Fee for Police Services*

*    Prior ordinance history: Ord. 322.

Sec. 4-12.01 Purpose and Findings.

The City Council of the City of Hercules does hereby find as follows: The Hercules Police Department has been required to respond to an increasing and excessive number of false alarms in the City. The problem of false alarms includes the diversion of police personnel from other necessary activities, the potential delay in police response to valid calls for service, the hazards to the general public and officers when responding to false alarms, and the waste of City resources in response to false alarms. This is an expense that should properly be borne by the persons responsible for the false alarms. (Ord. 421 § 1 (part), 2006)

Sec. 4-12.02 Definitions.

As used in this Chapter:

(a) “False alarm” means any burglar, fire, theft, or emergency alarm which, through equipment malfunction or human error, activates and causes a police response in circumstances where no criminal activity or emergency exists or has occurred. The term “false alarm” includes alarms located in residential and nonresidential real property, motor vehicles, and boats.

(b) “Costs incurred for police services” means the actual cost of police personnel equipment used in an alarm response, including:

(1) The prevailing salaries, benefits, and overhead costs attributable to police officers at the time of the alarm for the amount of time spent in responding to and remaining at the site of the false alarm;

(2) The cost of any medical treatment to officers injured while responding to or investigating a false alarm;

(3) The prorated expense associated with the use of City equipment; and

(4) The cost of repairing or replacing any City equipment that is damaged or destroyed during the response to or investigation of a false alarm.

(c) “Person responsible for a false alarm” means every person or business entity which owns, rents, leases, or otherwise has control over the real property, vehicle, or boat from which the false alarm originates. If the responsible person is a minor, then the parents or guardians of the minor will be jointly and severally liable for the costs incurred for police services pursuant to this Chapter. (Ord. 421 § 1 (part), 2006)

Sec. 4-12.03 False Alarms.

The person responsible for a false alarm shall be held liable for all costs incurred for police services due to the response or investigation of a false alarm. (Ord. 421 § 1 (part), 2006)

Sec. 4-12.04 Automatic Shut-Off Required.

All audible alarm systems within the City of Hercules shall be equipped with an automatic shut-off device which deactivates the alarm within twenty (20) minutes. Violation of this Section shall be punishable as an infraction pursuant to HMC Section 1-4.01. (Ord. 421 § 1 (part), 2006)

Sec. 4-12.05 Fees for False Alarms.

Whenever any alarm system issues or causes a false alarm, or whenever any person in control of, or employed by the owner or operator of, a premises where such an alarm is installed causes a false alarm, the following fees shall be imposed:

(a) No fee for the first, second, or third (3rd) false alarm occurring in a calendar year;

(b) One Hundred Fifty Dollars ($150) for the fourth (4th) false alarm occurring in a calendar year;

(c) Two Hundred Dollars ($200) for the fifth (5th) and each subsequent false alarm occurring in a calendar year;

(d) As used in this Chapter, the term “calendar year” means January through December, inclusive.

These fees are in addition to any additional costs for police services as described in this Chapter, Section 4-12.02(b).

The fees and costs in this Section shall be considered a debt due and owing to the City of Hercules, and may be collected by any means permitted by law.

The only exceptions to the fees for false alarms shall be the failure of the telephone system (when said system is used to transmit an alarm), or failure of the electrical power, public utility system, or acts of nature (occasioned exclusively by violence of nature without the interference of any human agency.) The person claiming failure of the telephone system or other valid excuse shall have the burden of proving or establishing that the malfunction was beyond their control.

No charges for false alarms shall be made for a system under repair, if both the Police Communications Center and any intermediate answering service are notified in advance that the system is under repair. Notification of the commencement of repairs shall be made in person by the individual making the repairs, who shall present proof of their alarm agent registration with the Bureau of Consumer Affairs and such other evidence as may be required showing their authority to undertake repairs. Notice shall also be given upon the completion of repairs, and may be done by telephone to the Communications Center. (Ord. 421 § 1 (part), 2006)

Sec. 4-12.06 No Response Status.

An alarm subscriber may request “no response” status to avoid future fees. The request shall be made in writing to the police department. The person submitting the request must prove that they have the authority to request “no response” status. “No response” status shall not go into effect until the request, with all supporting documentation, has been approved by the Chief of Police.

Any person charged a false alarm fee under the provisions of this Chapter or who has been denied “no response” status may appeal that fee or determination to a hearing officer appointed by the Chief of Police. The hearing procedures shall be informal, and the rules of evidence or procedure for administrative hearings shall not apply. The decision of the hearing officer is final. (Ord. 421 § 1 (part), 2006)