Tucson Council puts alarm fees on hold
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Tucson city council told Tucson Police Wednesday to rework a plan to charge homeowners and businesses more for alarm systems and false alarms.
TPD says chasing false alarms costs loads of money and time. Police want to charge alarm owners a $20 fee up front on top of fines they were already charging for false alarms. But some local alarm companies say that's just a money grab and council members told police to work out a fairer system.
In Tucson if home or business owner's alarm gives a false alarm, the current ordinance lets that happen twice before TPD issues a $100 fine. But TPD proposed a the $20 fee to even have an alarm with no freebies for the first two false alarms.
Alarm company owners like Roger Score of Tucson Alarm Company said they'd rather see their own companies face fines instead of the customers.
"If I have a customer that's producing false alarms and I can't go out and teach him, he's just so stupid he can't remember those four digits, I can cancel him," Score told the council. "But most of my customers are so intelligent. I give them a four digit code and they can remember it. "
The companies dispute police numbers on how many false alarms they deal with. Chief Roberto Villasenor says if the stats are improving it's because police are deciding not to run on every alarm.
"Because of our standards that we filter the alarm calls through we dispatched officers on 9400 of them. The total out of all 18,000 calls of alarms going off in the city resulted in 223 crimes that actually had occurred. In that the alarms had actually indicated to us a crime that had occurred," Chief Villasenor explained.
But council members are worried the police definition of a false alarm is so vagu, it might penalize people if an alarm really did run off an intruder who left nothing behind to prove he was there. Some of them also felt police are so short staffed, they don't want alarm fees to discourage people buying alarms that might help deter crime. The council told police to get with alarm companies and other stake holders to rework the proposal.
TPD's plan was projected to raise about a million dollars and the new city budget already assumed that million dollars will be there. If the new plan raises less money or the plan crashes completely they'll have to scramble to somehow make up that million dollars.