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Police chief presents changes to alarm law

July 17, 2002|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

Hagerstown Police Chief Arthur Smith presented Hagerstown's Mayor and City Council on Tuesday with proposed revisions to the city burglar alarm law, which changes fines for false alarms and the cost of permits.

The city will hold a public hearing on the proposed changes next month, Mayor William Breichner said.

Under the proposal, the cost of the annual residential permits for alarms would increase from $15 to $20. However, the renewal would be free as long as it is done by the Nov. 1 renewal deadline, Smith said.

The proposal calls for the cost of annual commercial permits for alarms to increase from $30 to $40.

Homeowners older than 65 are exempt from the fee.

Currently, after the first false alarm, the city charges a $50 fine, Finance Director Al Martin said.

Under the proposal, the maximum fine for the first false alarm is $10, the maximum fine for the second false alarm is $50 and the maximum fine for the third false alarm during the same year is $100.

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For subsequent false alarms during the same year, the maximum fine would be $150.

At a December meeting, the council asked Smith and Martin to come up with a new burglar alarm law.

The council decided to review the matter after Councilwoman Penny May Nigh said on Nov. 20 that she did not have a permit for her home burglar alarm. Nigh, who has since paid for a permit, said she didn't know about the city law that requires residents and businesses to get city permits for alarm systems.

Martin and Smith have said that having alarm users register with the city is useful because then they know who to contact if there are problems with an alarm.

Through the fees and false alarm fines, the city raised $45,678 during the last fiscal year, Martin said.

The money goes into the police department budget, he said.

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