Prior to 2004, the Seattle Police Department responded to an average of 25,000 alarm calls a year with over 97% of them being false, taking needed patrol officers off the street, wasting a valuable resource. Since the False Alarm Fine Ordinance was passed in 2004, the Seattle Police Department now responds to fewer than 11,000 false alarm calls a year. Despite this reduction, responding to false alarms costs the City of Seattle an excess of one million dollars annually. The 2004 ordinance is designed to protect Seattle residents and business owners including:
- Billing alarm companies directly for use of police services including alarm registration and false alarm fees.
- Basing the registration and alarm fees solely on cost of recovery for police dispatch and response.
- Not billing for false alarms that are canceled by the alarm company prior to police dispatch.
- Only licensed alarm companies may operate in the city, and those companies must use enhanced call verification prior to requesting police dispatch.
- Requiring physical evidence of need for a police dispatch to consider an alarm call valid (an alarm signal, open doors, or open windows are not considered valid alarms).
- Waivers may be obtained once every 7 years for owners who attend an alarm user workshop or switch to private guard response.
To help reduce the chance of accidental activation of an alarm and possibly being responsible for an alarm fee, we recommend that you review your alarm system instructions:
- Consider storing your key fob inside some kind of device that would not allow accidental trips.
- Deactivate panic buttons if they are not needed
- If your alarm is silent, you may not even realize that you activated the alarm until officers arrive. Consider an audible alarm.
During a time of duress, instead of activating your panic button, call 9-1-1, putting you in direct contact with police dispatch to provide vital information for responding officers. Activating an alarm, instead of calling 9-1-1, allows precious minutes to elapse before the police are aware that a priority response is necessary.
At PSI, we are dedicated to reducing the incidences of false alarms. If you have questions regarding the use of your system, contact us at 206.322.3186 or visit: www.seattle.gov/police/programs/alarms/default.htm. It could make a big difference in reducing your risk of false alarm activations.
- Seattle Police Department’s False Alarm Unit 206 684-7713 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- City of Seattle Revenue and Consumer Affairs 206-684-8406
- AlarmWatch (Protective Systems Central Station) 800-303-0586