Greenville County Council is looking at the impact of an ordinance they passed in September of 2017 which imposed stricter fines on habitual false alarm offenders.
The Sheriff’s Office started enforcing the ordinance in January. Since then, they say they’ve seen a decrease in the number of false alarms
“Every time an alarm goes off, and you don’t know the password, we’re going to have to keep responding out there, regardless if we know it’s going to be false or not,” Sgt. Ryan Flood with the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office said.
Flood says the continual false alarms tied up resources. It was a problem that was brought to County Council’s attention. That’s when Councilman Lynn Ballard spearheaded the change.
“The old ordinance said you got two false alarms free every quarter, a total of eight a year…People were just paying fines, and nothing was changing,” Ballard said. He also said the old fine was minimal.
The amended Security Alarm Ordinance is below:
After two (2) false alarms within a calendar year, all additional false alarms during the calendar year shall be considered a violation of this article and shall be deemed a civil infraction and the alarm system user shall be subject to the following fines:(1) 3-5 False Alarms within the calendar year shall be punishable by a fine of $50 per occurrence;(2) 6 and 7 False Alarms within the calendar year shall be punishable by a fine of $100 per occurrence;(3) 8 and 9 False Alarms within the calendar year shall be punishable by a fine of $250 per occurrence, and(4) 10 or more False Alarms within the calendar year shall be punishable by a fine of $500 per occurrence.
Ballard says since the new ordinance has been in effect the worst offender went from having nearly 130 false alarms in a year to none.
“Our goal was not to make money,” Ballard said. “Our goal was to correct the false alarm problem.”
Ballard said it seems to be working. From the first six months of 2017 compared to the first six months of 2018, the number of false alarms in the county decreased by nearly 500, ultimately improving public safety.
“Now, we’re able to re-allocate those deputies to other emergency situations going on in the County instead of continuously responding out to these false alarms,” Sgt. Flood said.
Ballard says since the ordinance has passed no residential customers have been fined for false alarms, only businesses.
Security companies say they’ve also implemented a two-call verification process which has also played a role in decreasing the number of false alarms.