The Pasco County Commission has approved an ordinance aimed at reducing the number of false alarms in the county.
The measure requires residents and business owners to register their alarm systems with the Pasco County Sheriff’s office and, in some instances, to pay fines for false alarms.
Failure to register alarm systems and false alarms could result in fines ranging from $50 to $500, under the ordinance adopted by commissioners on Aug. 9.
The effort aims at significantly reducing the number of false alarms that waste deputies’ time.
Data from the sheriff’s office shows that about 80 percent of the 17,000 alarms that came in over a 12-month period turned out to be false alarms.
Commissioners unanimously approved the new regulations, but voiced concerns about how people will find out about the registration requirement.
Commissioners also amended the proposed ordinance to be sure that a warning is issued on the first false alarm involving an unregistered alarm system.
Initially, the ordinance had called for $100 fine, with no warning.
Those with registered systems would be given warnings for the first two false alarms and then would pay a $50 fine for the third false alarm.
Fines would escalate with each additional false alarm to a maximum of $500.
“We’re being as active as we can be to make sure everybody hears about this,” said Chase Daniels, sheriff’s office spokesman.
Online registration will shortly be available, he said.
In-person registration also can be done at the sheriff’s three district offices.
Annual registration will be required. New alarm systems must be registered within 30 days.
The registry will include information on the owner of the alarm system, the type of system in use, who monitors the system and individuals to contact when deputies respond to alarm calls.
Daniels said efforts will be made to alert alarm system companies who can then send letters to their customers. The companies would be able to function as agents for residents or businesses that need to complete the registration.
“I want to make sure we don’t penalize owners if their alarm company isn’t notifying them,” said Pasco County Commissioner Mike Moore.
Daniels said the sheriff’s office wouldn’t be looking for unregistered systems. Deputies would only become aware of that issue when answering an alarm call, and could issue warnings.
“We do have a lot of discretion built in there,” he said. “(The sheriff’s) goal is that we would never fine anyone.”
Published August 17, 2016