Burbank to charge more for police response to false alarms

A spike in the number of false-alarm calls made to Burbank police in recent years prompted harsher penalties to recover response costs this week after officials said the trend is tying up resources needed for true emergencies.

According to a new fee schedule approved by the Burbank City Council on Tuesday, the penalty for generating more than two general false alarms in a calendar year will double to $150 starting in July. The penalty will be assessed for the third and each subsequent general call.

For more than two false robbery alarm calls, the penalty is $200 each, up from $75 last year.

The move comes amid a steep rise in the number of false alarms.

In 2012, police responded to 2,139 commercial and residential alarm calls, up from 727 just two years before, according to Police Administrator Josephine Wilson.

More than 300 of the calls were to locations that had generated three or more false alarms in a 12-month period; 100 were false robbery alarm calls, Wilson added.

The drain on resources is especially heavy when it comes to robbery alarm calls, which Wilson said are among the highest priority calls for police.

“We require at least three patrol units to respond, one of which is usually a supervisor,” Wilson said, adding that if an air unit is available, it will be called in to respond as well.

Wilson also pointed out that the false robbery alarm fee has not been adjusted for more than a decade.

“This is a way for us to discourage these kinds of calls that are really tying up our resources,” she said.

Staff writer Daniel Siegal contributed reporting.

-- Alene Tchekmedyian, alene.tchekmedyian@latimes.com

Follow on Google+ and on Twitter: @atchek.

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