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Phoenix-area police ask city for false alarm call consequences

(Paradise Valley Police Department / Facebook)

PHOENIX — A staggering rate of false alarm calls in Paradise Valley has led the town’s police department to take action.

More than 99 percent of the 3,672 security alarms that the Paradise Valley Police Department responded to in 2017 were false alarms, chief Peter Wingert told the Paradise Valley Independent. Only five of those calls were due to an actual emergency.

That’s a significant amount of false alarms considering there are an estimated 5,000 properties or lots in the town.

The majority of false alarm calls come from locations that have multiple instances of false alarms. Wingert told the newspaper that only 683 of the locations police responded to in 2017 had only one false alarm call. He added that cutting out the top 10 locations where alarms go off regularly would reduce the number of total calls by 8 percent.

More than 2,200 police work hours were used on false alarm calls last year.

To combat the misuse of police resources, the town council gave the department the head-nod to begin penalizing property owners for multiple false alarm violations on July 1, according to the Paradise Valley Independent.

An ordinance is already in place to enforce false alarms, but the city abandoned taking action on the regulations in 2012. When it was originally put in place, the ordinance led to a reduction in false alarms by 10 percent from 2009 to 2010.

What counts as a violation of the ordinance?

After an alarm goes off, alarm companies determine whether law enforcement assistance is required. If so, the police department dispatches an officer.

False alarms will be put on record if there is “no evidence of a crime or emergency is observed,” per the newspaper. A first violation results in no fine and a warning letter, and each following violation will lead to a $100 fine that can be appealed to the town manager.

The police chief’s outline to reduce false alarms suggested providing Paradise Valley residents with tips to avoid false alarms, including a June reminder prior to monsoon storms — June’s weather leads to a spike in false alarm calls, Wingert told the newspaper.

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