Chapter 8.48
FALSE ALARMS

Sections:

8.48.010    Purpose.

8.48.020    Definitions.

8.48.030    Alarm permits required – Permit fees.

8.48.040    Responsibilities of alarm users.

8.48.050    Prohibited alarm devices.

8.48.060    False alarms.

8.48.070    False alarm fines.

8.48.080    Appeals.

8.48.090    Exceptions.

8.48.010 Purpose.

The purpose of this chapter is to protect against false alarms hindering or diminishing the availability of police services to the general public and to safeguard public resources. This chapter is not intended to convey any special benefit to any entity, individual, or group of individuals. (Ord. 1379 § 3, 2011).

8.48.020 Definitions.

A. “Alarm administrator” means the person designated by the city administrator to administer the city’s false alarm ordinance. The city may contract with a private provider to serve as the alarm administrator.

B. “Alarm appeals officer” means the person designated by the city administrator to hear and decide appeals related to false alarm fines. The alarm appeals officer shall be a different person and entity than the alarm administrator.

C. “Alarm business” means any business, individual, partnership, corporation or other entity engaged in the selling, leasing, maintaining, servicing, repairing, altering, replacing, moving, installing or responding to security alarms. Alarm businesses also include any person, business or organization that monitors security alarm systems and initiates alarm dispatch requests, including units or divisions of larger businesses or organizations that provide proprietary security alarm monitoring services only to affiliates of the parent business or organization.

D. “Alarm dispatch request” means the initiating of a communication to the police, via the regional communications agency, by an alarm business indicating that a security alarm system has been activated at a particular alarm site and requesting emergency response to that alarm site.

E. “Alarm site” means a structure or portion thereof served by a single security alarm system. In a multi-tenant building or complex, each portion of the structure or complex having its own security alarm system is considered a separate alarm site.

F. “Alarm system” means a device or series of interconnected devices, including, but not limited to, systems interconnected with hard wiring or radio frequency signals, which are designed to emit and/or transmit a remote or local audible, visual or electronic signal indicating that an intrusion may either be in progress or is being attempted at the alarm site. Security alarm systems do not include those devices designed to alert only the inhabitants of specific premises and that have no sounding or signaling devices which can be heard or seen on the exterior of the alarm site.

G. “Alarm user” means any person, firm, partnership, corporation or other entity that controls an active security alarm system at an alarm site, who is the holder of the alarm permit, and who is financially responsible for the operation of an alarm system.

H. “Burglary alarm” (also “property/intrusion alarm”) means an alarm system that is used to detect and report unauthorized entry or attempted unauthorized entry upon real property.

I. “Monitoring” means the process an alarm business uses to keep watch on alarm systems; to receive alarm activation signals from alarm systems; to verify alarm activations; to relay alarm dispatch requests for emergency response to an alarm site; and to cancel alarm dispatch requests.

J. “Multi-unit complex” means any building or group of buildings located/co-located on the same real property and comprised of two or more separately occupied units.

K. “Robbery alarm” (also “duress alarm,” “hold-up alarm” or “panic alarm”) means an alarm signal generated by the manual or automatic activation of a device, or any system, device, or mechanism on or near the premises intended to signal that a robbery or violent crime is in progress, and that one or more persons are in need of immediate police assistance in order to avoid injury, serious bodily harm or death at the hands of the perpetrator of the robbery or other crime. All robbery/panic alarms installed after the effective date of the ordinance codified in this chapter are required to possess a dual activation mechanism.

L. “Security alarm monitoring business” means any person, firm or corporation who is engaged in the monitoring of security alarm systems and the summoning of police response to activations thereof. This includes both businesses that are engaged in alarm monitoring for profit and businesses that have specialized units or subsidiaries that monitor only their own alarm systems.

M. “Unmonitored alarm system” means an alarm system that is not actively monitored by an alarm business and whose function it is to evoke police response solely by means of a generally audible and/or visible signal. (Ord. 1404 § 1, 2011; Ord. 1379 § 3, 2011).

8.48.030 Alarm permits required – Permit fees.

A. Every alarm user in the city of Bonney Lake which maintains an active alarm must obtain an alarm permit by providing the following information to the alarm administrator:

1. Name and address of the alarm user (i.e., the person financially responsible for operation of the alarm system);

2. The home and business telephone number of the alarm user;

3. The name, address and telephone number of the alarm business providing monitoring service to the system;

4. An alternate telephone number for verification (cell phone or other telephone designated by the alarm user);

5. The signature of the alarm user verifying that he or she has read and understood this chapter and any information brochures provided by the alarm administrator, and agrees to pay any false alarm fines levied;

6. a. The nonrefundable annual alarm permit fee of $24.00 (residential and/or commercial).

b. The nonrefundable annual renewal fee of $24.00 (residential and/or commercial).

i. Reduced rates for senior citizens, 65 years of age or older, and individuals with a permanent disability (residential only):

(A) Nonrefundable annual alarm permit fee of $12.00.

(B) Nonrefundable annual renewal fee of $12.00.

In order to qualify for the senior rate, applicants must provide proof of age, be listed as the property owner or lessee and must have the alarm contract in their name.

In order to qualify as an individual with a permanent disability the individual must provide proof of permanent disability. Proof may be in the form of a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Identification Card or documentation showing at least 30 percent permanent disability; a Washington Department of Licensing parking placard issued for permanent disability under RCW 46.16.381; or any other means that the alarm administrator deems an appropriate proof of permanent disability. In addition, the individual must be listed as the property owner or lessee and must have the alarm contract in their name.

B. On receipt of the application, fee and verification statement, the alarm administrator shall issue a security alarm permit number to the alarm user, which shall remain the same for as long as the alarm user maintains a permit for the alarm site. Alarm permits are valid for one year and must be renewed annually by providing verification that permit information is still current and paying the nonrefundable alarm permit renewal fee.

C. No alarm user shall presume, anticipate, or expect that emergency response will result solely from the activation of any unmonitored security alarm system or a monitored security alarm system for which the alarm user has not obtained an alarm permit. (Ord. 1404 § 2, 2011; Ord. 1379 § 3, 2011).

8.48.040 Responsibilities of alarm users.

A. Each alarm user is responsible for assuring that his or her alarm system is used properly and in accordance with the manufacturer’s directions and the law. Inherent in this responsibility is assuring that all persons with access to the alarm system are properly trained on correct use of the system and are authorized to cancel accidental activations, and assuring that procedures and practices are followed that minimize the risk of false alarms.

B. Each alarm user is responsible for keeping his or her alarm system properly maintained and in good working order.

C. Each alarm user is financially responsible for paying any false alarm fines. (Ord. 1379 § 3, 2011).

8.48.050 Prohibited alarm devices.

A. No person shall install or operate a monitored security alarm system in the city of Bonney Lake that fails to differentiate burglary alarm activations from robbery/panic alarm activations.

B. No person shall install or operate a monitored security alarm system in the city of Bonney Lake that fails to differentiate crime-related incidents from fire, medical or other non-crime-related incidents.

C. No person shall operate a security alarm system in the city of Bonney Lake that has a siren, bell, light or other device audible or visible from any property adjacent to the alarm site that signals for longer than 10 consecutive minutes after the alarm is activated or that repeats the 10-minute alarm cycle more than three consecutive times without resetting.

D. No person shall operate a security alarm system in a multi-unit complex in the city of Bonney Lake that fails to identify alarm activations by the specific unit involved. (Ord. 1379 § 3, 2011).

8.48.060 False alarms.

A. When, in the opinion of the responding officers, an alarm dispatch request cannot be reasonably attributed to actual or attempted criminal offense at the involved alarm site, the incident is a false alarm and the alarm user is subject to a false alarm fine.

B. When the responding officer is unable to determine if an alarm is valid or false because of inaccessibility of the alarm site, the response is presumed to be a false alarm and the user is subject to a false alarm fine.

C. An alarm dispatch request may be canceled by the alarm business initiating the request at any time up to the point at which the responding officer or service reports arrival at the alarm site to the dispatcher. Alarm dispatch requests canceled in accordance with the procedures established by the alarm administrator prior to arrival of emergency services at the alarm site are not subject to false alarm fines. (Ord. 1379 § 3, 2011).

8.48.070 False alarm fines.

A. The fine for a false burglary alarm shall be $100.00 per false alarm. The fine for a false robbery/panic alarm shall be $200.00 per false alarm.

B. Any alarm user having a permit from the city may request that his or her first false alarm fine be waived if the alarm user provides proof that he or she has successfully completed the online false alarm class provided by the alarm administrator within 30 days of the fine.

C. Fines shall be assessed based on the response requested. An alarm dispatch request reporting a robbery/panic alarm, for example, is subject to the false alarm fine applicable to robbery/panic alarms, even if the alarm activation should properly have been reported as a burglary alarm.

D. False alarm fines assessed for any alarm site that does not have a permit from the city shall be double the applicable fine referenced in this section; provided, however, that the fine shall be reduced by $50.00 for a burglary alarm and $100.00 for a panic alarm if the alarm user obtains a permit within 30 days of the fine. No alarm user lacking a permit from the city shall have the option to waive any false alarm fines in exchange for completing an online false alarm class.

E. All fines are due and payable on receipt of invoice. Fines that are unpaid 30 days or more after the date of invoice are considered past due for purposes of this chapter.

F. A late fee of $25.00 shall be imposed on past due accounts to cover the cost of processing and collection. (Ord. 1379 § 3, 2011).

8.48.080 Appeals.

A. Bases for Appeal.

1. False alarm fines may be appealed on the grounds that the false alarm incident cited as the basis for the fine was caused by:

a. An act of nature such as earthquake, flood, gale force wind, fire and verifiable power or telephone line failure;

b. Action of a utility company (e.g., telephone, cable, gas, etc.);

c. A power outage; or

d. Evidence that the incident cited as the basis for the fine was, in fact, real and not a false alarm. The alarm user has the burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the incident was not a false alarm.

2. False alarm fines may not be appealed on the grounds that the false alarm was the result of:

a. Faulty, defective or malfunctioning equipment supplied by the alarm business.

b. Improper installation or maintenance by the alarm business.

c. Improper monitoring by the alarm business.

d. Alarm activations which occur while alarm technicians are repairing, servicing or testing the alarm system.

e. An occurrence where no evidence of criminal activity is present.

f. Mistakes made by private contractors, maids, cleaning crews, realtors, etc.

g. Improper maintenance of the alarm system by the alarm owner (including neglect of backup power/battery supplies).

h. Items within the home or business which move and cause motion detectors to activate, i.e., curtains, signs, balloons, plants, pets, etc.

i. Glass break detectors which activate due to noises or sounds other than actual glass breakage.

j. Doors and/or windows that become loose and cause a break in the contacts which activate the alarm.

k. Caretakers who watch homes or businesses when owners are away.

l. Pets, rodents, wildlife.

B. False alarm fines may be appealed to the alarm appeals officer by sending a letter to the alarm administrator requesting an appeal conference and specifying the reasons for the appeal. This letter, along with a $50.00 appeal fee, must be received by the alarm administrator within 10 working days after receipt of the notice of fine.

C. The alarm appeals officer, on receipt of an appeal request, shall conduct an appeal conference in Bonney Lake within 15 working days after receiving the appeal request and shall determine if grounds exist to waive or cancel the fee or action.

D. An alarm user may also argue that mitigating circumstances support waiver or reduction of the fine. The alarm appeals officer is not obligated to reduce or waive any fines and/or appeal fees, but has discretion to do so for extraordinary mitigating circumstances.

E. The alarm appeals officer shall render a decision and notify the appellant and the alarm administrator thereof in writing within 10 working days after the appeal conference is held. (Ord. 1404 § 3, 2011; Ord. 1379 § 3, 2011).

8.48.090 Exceptions.

The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to temporary alarm systems used by the police department or other public law enforcement agencies for investigative or protective purposes (e.g., VARDA, WAVE or similar systems). (Ord. 1379 § 3, 2011).