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False alarm ordinance needs more exploration

October 16, 2009|By TRISH RUDDER

 BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.VA. -- About 10 people attended the Morgan County Commission's public hearing Thursday night on a proposed false-alarm ordinance. 

Because the Morgan County Sheriff's Department spends a lot of time responding to nuisance alarms caused by weather changes or pets that trigger the security alarms, Morgan County Sheriff Vince Shambaugh asked the commission to look into a false-alarm ordinance that is based on the one used in Tucker County, W.Va. 

Shambaugh said his department responds to about 20 to 40 calls a month that are false alarms. 

Resident Phil Spriggs said his alarm went off only once in 20 years and that was because it was struck by lighting. 

The alarm has to be serviced every year, he said. "It's a personal responsibility." 

Lou Clawges of Security Electronics said instead of putting an ordinance in place, about 99 percent of the false alarms would be eliminated if a double-alarm system were in place.

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"If the motion detector goes off twice, somebody got in," Clawges said. 

He said every big city is using double alarms. 

Clawges said there is no extra charge for the double-alarm system. With that system, a second alarm must sound within five minutes before 911 is contacted. If there is no second alarm, the first alarm was false, he said. 

Resident John Ramming said he believes people who get alarms want to support law enforcement.

"The double-alarm system is a wonderful way of doing it," he said. 

Commission President Brenda J. Hutchinson, Commissioner Thomas R. Swaim and Shambaugh said they liked the idea of the double-alarm system. 

Hutchinson said the double-alarm system needs to be explored. Shambaugh will find out more about the system, the alarm system companies in the county and what the 911 requirements are for registering an alarm, and he will report to the commission what he learns.

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