Bellevue considering fines for false alarms

Bellevue considering fines for false alarms »Play Video

BELLEVUE, Wash. -- Bellevue city leaders are tired of police wasting time and money on false alarm calls. This week the Bellevue City Council directed police staff to more forward with a proposal that would fine users who generate false alarms.

Police say false alarms account for 98 percent of all alarm calls, and patrol officers spend roughly 1,700 hours annually responding to false alarms. The department estimates it costs more than $85,000 in police time.

"I fundamentally like the idea of not having so many false alarms, there are far too many of them," said Bellevue Mayor Claudia Balducci. "This is one way many jurisdictions have the success in changing that around and that's what we want to do".

Many cities and counties in Washington State have false alarm fines. Bellevue is one of the largest cities that do not. Many areas levy the fines on the users directly.

Matthew Lombardi, owner of Absolute Security Alarms, installs security systems in many areas that have false alarm fines. He said Seattle has the best program because it fines the alarm company. While it seems counter intuitive, Lombardi believes it makes sure alarm companies do their job and trouble shoot their own systems.

"By putting the auspices on the alarm vendor themselves, it becomes my responsibility to not only use better equipment but to educate the client better on how to use that equipment to avoid false alarms," he said.

Under the proposal, a vendor would collect an annual registration fee for the estimated 7,000 to 8,000 alarms and would also collect fines for false alarms. According to financial review, the projected revenue includes $120,000 per year in registration fees and $80,000 to $100,000 per year in fines.

The cost of the program won't be known until a vendor is chosen and fees are set, but it's expected to be cost neutral. Any revenue in excess of expenses would go to the city's general fund.

A vendor will be selected through a competitive bid process and the City Council could give final approval at a future meeting. More information on the false alarm management proposal is available online.