The Huntington Beach City Council on Monday will consider modifying local fees and fines for false-alarm burglary calls and look into contracting with a security system vendor to alleviate what Police Chief Robert Handy describes as a drain on his department’s resources.
Alarms can go off accidentally when a system malfunctions or the equipment is old. According to a staff report, the Police Department responds to more than 4,000 alarm-related calls each year, and less than 1% are crime-related.
Issuing a five-year, $600,000 contract to PM AM Corp. would increase permit compliance and decrease false alarms, according to the report.
Adopting a resolution to amend city fines would improve the Police Department’s cost recovery, the report said. That is estimated to generate $200,000 annually for the city if approved.
The two proposals will be voted on separately.
Huntington Beach requires a $41 annual permit for a person whose alarm system directly or indirectly signals the Police Department. People are fined $50 for a third false alarm call within a 12-month period, with fines for subsequent false alarms ranging from $100 to $500.
Handy is proposing a $25 fine for a first false alarm, which could be waived if the offender takes an online class similar to traffic school. The fine for a second false alarm would be $50, and a third through fifth would cost $75 to $150.
People without a permit would be fined $250 for a first false alarm but could have it waived if they obtain a permit within 10 days. Subsequent fines could range up to $1,000.
PM AM Corp. would be responsible for collecting fees through an automated service and providing education material to help residents comply with city rules.
Handy pitched renovating the city’s false alarm reduction program during a study session in November. He told the City Council that security system vendors could help customers comply with the permit requirements and ensure they properly maintain their equipment.
In 2017, police received 5,645 alarm-related calls, of which 3,816 were false alarms and 30 were for confirmed crimes, the department said.
In 2016, the department received 5,330 alarm calls, of which 3,428 were false alarms and 57 were for confirmed crimes.