When alarms in homes or businesses are accidentally set off, it can be downright annoying, and even worse for first responders who arrive on-scene only to find nothing is wrong.
After an abundance of calls, police in Springfield will now be enforcing fines for excessive false alarms.
It's not unusual for an alarm to go off at your home or business for one reason or another.
The problems comes with repeat offenders, when alarms are triggered three, four, five, even a dozen times in one year.
"We'll respond there, and the alarm will be you know, somebody will have activated it inadvertently. Maybe it was caused by the wind, maybe a motion detector inside said something fell and set it off," said Springfield Police Deputy Chief William Cochrane.
Police told Western Mass News most systems just need to be better maintained or repaired, while others are simply human error.
Alarm calls like hold ups, panic, and weather related, don't count as false, even if the scene ends up clear.
Numbers from Springfield Police show they received about 14,000 alarm calls in 2017.
In 2017, more than 10,000 of those calls ended up false.
Going forward, the city will enforce fines for too many false alarms at a home or business in one year.
Those fines have been part of city legislation since 2006, but are now being enforced.
The hope being that tax dollars can go towards more important calls.
"We're looking for compliance with the ordinance, so that we can reduce the strain on our manpower, and so that we can be more efficient with our officers time," Cochrane explained.
Under the ordinance, the first three false alarms in a year will not be a fine, but if you hit four, it's going to cost you.
More than six calls 6 will cost $250 each time.
Western Mass News compared numbers in other cities.
Only a quarter of Chicopee's alarms were false, while all but three of Northampton's alarms were false.
False alarms in Chicopee for 2017:
False alarms in Northampton for 2017:
Springfield Police said on average it takes fifteen minutes to take a call and get to the scene.
That adds up to more than 2,500 hours spent responding to false alarms per year, nearly seven hours a day.
"They want us to be there when they need help, and to tie up an officer or two on a false alarm. It just doesn't put us in the places we need to be," said Cochrane.
Police will continue to respond to all calls, but to avoid excess false alarms, they recommend having your systems checked each year, and if there is a problem, get it repaired.
Billing for false alarms in January begins on February 15.
Those bills will be sent out to homes and businesses at the end of every month.
Visit the link here register your alarm in case it goes off and you are not home so Springfield Police can contact you right away.
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