Lethbridge police are advising businesses and homeowners who have alarm systems that they must register them with the police service in order to comply with the alarm bylaw.
Lethbridge Bylaw 5078 requires all persons who have either a residential or commercial alarm to obtain a permit and register the alarm with the police service. This provision has always existed in the bylaw, but was not previously enforced. In an effort to reduce the number of false alarms police respond to – which greatly impacts officer capacity – the provision will now be enforced and alarm owners have until July 1 to register.
In 2015 police responded to 1,339 false alarms and only 36 genuine alarms. Comparatively, in 2014 police responded to 1,437 false and 35 genuine alarms. The five year average between 2010 and 2014 was determined to be 1,464 false alarms per year. Responding to these false alarms has a significant impact on resources and takes police time away from other calls for service.
A false alarm is defined as “the activation of an alarm system when there is no unauthorized entry into nor any other emergency situation in or on any property.” False alarms that result in police response arise from testing, a mechanical failure or malfunction, faulty equipment, an alarm activated by user neglect, error or omission and alarms activated by atmospheric conditions (power failure, excessive vibrations).
There is no cost to obtain a permit and all permits will be automatically renewed annually unless otherwise requested. Permits are only valid for the premises listed on the application so any change of address will require the holder to obtain a new permit. For anyone who fails to acquire a permit and register their alarm, police will not attend the alarm site unless it is determined to be an actual emergency.
The "Alarm System Registration" form and instructions on how to submit it are available at www.lethbridgepolice.ca under Online Services.
The bylaw also sets out provisions to apply monetary penalties to alarm holders for false alarms. Alarm sites are permitted to have two false alarms within a one-year period without consequence. Upon the third false alarm being received, the permit holder must provide police with written certification from their alarm company demonstrating the cause of the false alarms have been dealt with and repaired. The third and any subsequent false alarms received thereafter, will result in a monetary charge - $75 for residential and $150 for commercial premises. Alarm sites that generate six or more false alarms within the permit period will result in suspension of the permit until such time as it can be demonstrated the cause of the false alarms has been repaired. Monitoring companies who continue to convey alarms on a suspended or revoked permit will be charged $150.