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MARKETING and COMMUNICATIONS
DIANE ARTHUR, PIO

16000 North Civic Center Plaza  •  Surprise, AZ. 85374
diane.arthur@surpriseaz.gov  •  623.222.1422
www.surpriseaz.gov
 
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For Immediate Release

Council oks False Alarm Ordinance; effective May 1

Surprise, AZ (January 14, 2014) In an attempt to reduce the number of false alarm calls phoned into Surprise Police, the Surprise City Council adopted a False Alarm Ordinance Tuesday night that will seek more engagement from alarm companies and alarm owners before police are asked to respond to intrusion and burglar alarms.

Police say only 1 in 1,000 intrusion alarm calls are the result of criminal activity.  The Department receives about 4,000 calls a year, according to Chief Michael Frazier.  

The new ordinance requires alarm companies or owners to establish more certainty that criminal activity is probably present before calling for a police response. 

“We need to reduce the time and resources we spend chasing false alarms,” said Frazier. “A stronger verification system is also very important for officer safety.  When only one in a thousand is legitimate, it is very difficult for officers to keep their guard up.”

“Verification” by the alarm company or the owner includes:

• Audio or video surveillance
• An eyewitness
• Two separate zones activated and no response by the owner to alarm company calls.
• A verification from the owner to the alarm company that the alarm is valid.

This ordinance will NOT change the way police respond to panic, robbery, or hold-up alarms, said Frazier.

If the police respond to a verified alarm and discover no evidence of criminal activity, officers log the call as false and a 365-day “clock” begins.  If an alarm company or owner verifies an alarm and asks for police response a second time within 365 days, and police discover the alarm is again false,  alarm owners are asked to take steps to fix whatever may be causing the false alarms.

After a third report of a verified alarm turns out to be false, the department will cease responding to such alarms until 365 days from the first verified, false alarm has passed.

“Of course, any 911 caller who feels threatened by a burglar alarm going off in their home always get a very fast police response, no matter what the other circumstances,” Frazier said.  “We have a very safe community and we intend to keep it that way. More officers being able to use their time well will contribute to community safety.” 

The new ordinance takes effect May 1, 2014.

The ordinance is available at www.surpriseaz.gov.  For questions please contact Duane Fletcher at 623-222-4282 or email questions to duane.fletcher@surpriseaz.gov or  harold.brady@surpriseaz.gov.