City Council approves new false alarm ordinance

City Council approves new false alarm ordinance

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The New Orleans City Council on Thursday unanimously approved a proposal that it said will significantly reduce the amount of time police officers spend responding to false alarms.

The ordinance is based on collaboration among the Council, the NOPD and alarm system companies, and creates a shared responsibility for compliance for alarm system companies and users.

"Once fully-implemented, the new policy will free up the equivalent of at least six full-time officers and follow best practices adopted by police departments around the country that allow officers to more quickly respond to actual crimes and focus more efforts on proactive community policing," according to a city news release.

The Council outlined the fine structure as follows:

Under the approved ordinance, alarm system users will face a progressive fine system that will reset every calendar year. For the first false alarm, a written warning will be issued; on the second false alarm activation a $75 fee will be assessed, which can be waived; for a third violation a $150 fee will billed; and for a fourth violation, a $150 fee will be billed and NOPD will stop responding to additional alarm system activations. Alarm users will be able to appeal false alarm fines and notices of nonresponse.

In addition, alarm monitoring companies will be required to make at least two calls to an alarm system user to verify an alarm before requesting a police dispatch. Monitoring companies that do not adhere to these procedures will also face fines.

Actively triggered alarms, such as panic buttons or holdup alarms, do not require a two-call notification; they will continue to receive an immediate, Code 2 emergency response by police. However, the unnecessary dispatching of police for holdup or panic alarms will be counted against the alarm site as a false alarm.

As part of the ordinance, NOPD will have explicit authority to hire a contractor to administer the false alarm program. The department plans to begin the Request for Proposal process in the coming weeks.

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