Proposal in O'Fallon would charge higher fines for repeated false alarms

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by Elizabeth Eisele/ KMOV.com

KMOV.com

Posted on July 9, 2014 at 4:58 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 9 at 5:31 PM

(KMOV.com) – Authorities in O’Fallon, Missouri, say false alarms are eating up manpower, claiming they are running too many every year. And now they want businesses and homeowners to pay extra for repeated false alarms.

O’Fallon Police report officers responded to more than 1500 false alarms last year – about a third were residential and the rest were from businesses.

Jewelry store, Randy’s Jewelry, employee Robert Tiemann said they don’t have a problem with repeated false alarms, but he isn’t a fan of increasing the fines.

“I don’t know why it would be necessary to do that,” Tiemann said, “There’s a lot of businesses that have a hard time making it anyway, so to charge them $100 for a false alarm seems exorbitant.”

Officials said the current law went into effect in 1992 and a $100 fine is imposed on the fourth false alarm. A proposed ordinance would give a warning the first time, a $50 fine the second time and then a $100 fine each time after that.

Police said the department spent 232 man-hours responding to false alarms, only half a percent were legitimate while 70 percent were outright false and the other 29 percent were said to be things out of the business or homeowner’s control.

“Weather, a power outage – those king of things, we don’t even classify those as false alarms,” Tom Drabelle with O’Fallon said, “We’re looking to reduce that 70 percent, that larger number that covers the things that are preventable by the homeowner or business owner.”

“I think it sounds like trying to collect revenue,” Tiemann countered, “They’re saying police have to spend this many man-hours responding to these false alarms. Well, they’re working anyway. It’s not like you’re paying overtime for these guys to check on these false alarms.”

O’Fallon is looking to come up with an ordinance similar to the one enacted by neighbors St. Peters.

“Very simply, a perfect year for us would be zero false alarms and zero fines,” Drabelle continued, “We are not trying to make money on this at all.”

The O’Fallon City Council is expected to vote on the proposal at its meeting in August.

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