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Fines proposed for false alarms

December 09, 2008|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN-- Washington County and Hagerstown City officials are discussing a proposal that would fine homeowners and business owners for having faulty security systems that cause authorities to respond to false alarms.

Washington County Sheriff Douglas Mullendore and Hagerstown Police Chief Arthur Smith presented the proposal to the City Council during a Tuesday work session.

Smith said the proposal, if passed by the City Council and the Washington County Commissioners, would allow authorities to give a warning on the first and second offenses and a citation on the third offense.

The fine for homeowners would be $30 on the third offense and $50 for each subsequent offense within the same calendar year, according to city documents. Business owners would have to pay $60 on the third offense and $85 for each additional offense.

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Smith said violators would have the right to appeal.

Mullendore said only 32 of the 4,000 alarms that the sheriff's department checked in 2007 were legitimate.

The proposal is designed, in part, to give people the incentive to maintain their security systems so safety-service agencies don't waste time checking false alarms, Mullendore said. In addition, the proposal could reduce fuel costs and the risk of accidents as authorities drive to the scene.

Mullendore said the proposal would be enforced under one ordinance and administered by the county. The county would have to hire an employee, he said, whose salary and benefits would be paid using revenue from the fines.

"It won't be a moneymaker," Mullendore said. "Quite honestly, it will cost a little bit."

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