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City Council votes to adopt alarm ordinance

May 28, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- The City of Hagerstown will start imposing fines on home and business owners whose security alarms are activated by mistake.

On Tuesday, the Hagerstown City Council voted to adopt the Washington County Alarm Ordinance, which will allow the city to impose varying fines for false alarms.

Hagerstown Police Chief Arthur Smith said the ordinance was adopted to encourage people to use their alarm systems more responsibly.

"You want to give them an incentive to maintain their alarms," Smith said. "This is not to make money. This is strictly to get people to use their alarms properly."

The Hagerstown Police Department responded to 2,153 alarms in 2008, Smith said. Of those alarms, 165 originated from banks, 375 were from private residences and 1,613 came from businesses other than banks.

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Almost 100 percent of the residential alarms and about 95 percent of the business alarms were false, Smith said. Fewer than 1 percent of the alarms from banks were activated because of a robbery.

"It was a drain on (the police department's) resources," Smith said.

After the ordinance takes effect July 1, the city no longer will issue permits to operate alarms in Hagerstown, Smith said. After that date, permits will be issued by the county.

Smith said the city will stop issuing permits because the county will dispatch calls after the consolidated 911 center is operational.

County and city officials have said the 911 center is expected to open in September.

The ordinance states the first two false alarms within the same calendar year will result in a warning. The third offense will carry a $30 fine for residential-property owners and a $60 fine for commercial-property owners, according to the ordinance. Each subsequent offense will increase by $20 for residential alarms and $25 for commercial alarms.

The maximum fine for any one incident will be $100 for residential-property owners and $200 for commercial-property owners, according to the ordinance. Residents and business owners who operate an alarm without a permit will receive only one warning. In those cases, fees will be imposed on the second offense.

False alarm fines



The following are the fines for false alarms within the same calendar year, according to the Washington County Alarm Ordinance. The Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday voted to adopt Washington County's ordinance.

Residential alarms

o First offense -- warning

o Second offense -- warning

o Third offense -- $30

o Fourth offense -- $50

o Fifth offense -- $70

o Sixth offense -- $90

o Maximum fine -- $100 per incident

Commercial alarms

o First offense -- warning

o Second offense -- warning

o Third offense -- $60

o Fourth offense -- $85

o Fifth offense -- $110

o Sixth offense -- $135

o Seventh offense -- $160

o Eighth offense -- $185

o Maximum fine -- $200 per incident

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