New false alarm policy takes effect Jan. 1

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The city is hoping to put a dent in the estimated 1,200 false alarm calls received each year with changes to the alarm system bylaw that go into effect Jan. 1.

Under bylaw changes approved in September, alarm permit holders will now be allowed only one false alarm for the life of their permit instead of one per year.

Two other significant changes include invoicing users if police are dispatched to a false alarm call instead of if police arrive at a residence. Users and alarm companies will now also be required to verify all one-zone alarms before police are dispatched.

Police will still automatically respond to multi-zone, panic, duress, glass-break, hold-up and domestic violence alarms, as well as any alarm at a school or financial institution during business hours.

The changes are aimed at reducing the number of false alarms and helping the city recover more of the approximately $98,000 it spends responding to false alarms. Prior to the changes, user fees and fines recovered only about $23,000 of that total.

“The amendments to the alarm system bylaw will help us utilize our policing resources more effectively and efficiently,” said Insp. Kevin Murray, RCMP detachment commander.

According to the city, the most frequent causes of false alarms are using an incorrect code, dashing into the house for “just a second” after the alarm has been armed, and moving curtains, banners or pets that move into sight of a motion detector.

In order to prevent false alarms, permit holders should check their homes for drafts that might cause curtains, plants or decorations to set off motion detectors, make sure all doors and windows are closed securely before leaving the home and ensuring everyone knows how to work the alarm.

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