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False alarm clampdown contemplated

I wholeheartedly endorse this concept.

Hoping to curb a growing problem with false alarms, city officials are considering an increase in burglar-alarm fees and fines.

Houston police say false calls cost the city $9 million a year. That’s $5 million more than what the city generates in burglar-alarm permit fees and fines each year, HPD Capt. Dwayne Ready said.

“We’re really trying to look at how to reduce the number of (false) calls because it’s so high,” Ready said.

Under the city’s current ordinance, residents and businesses are not charged for the first five false burglar alarms. The city charges the owner $50 for each subsequent false alarm.

The proposed revisions would limit properties to three free false alarms.

The fourth and fifth false alarms would cost $50. The sixth and seventh would cost $75, and any more would cost $100 each.

The city also is considering a plan to boost the annual residential permit fee to $30 from $15. Commercial permit fees would increase to $70 from $40 a year.

It’s not just the money. As Grits has pointed out, it’s the time and police manpower spent chasing those false alarms. According to the Texas House Law Enforcement Committee (42-page PDF), responding to false alarms is the #1 activity in some Texas cities. Given the current personnel shortage in HPD, this is a no-brainer.

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