Alarm Systems

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Did You Know...

Ninety-eight percent of all alarm calls received are found to be false alarms.

If you accidentally activate your alarm system, you should immediately notify your monitoring station. The Ordinance allows the County to penalize any alarm subscriber who has more than four false alarms within a consecutive 12-month period. On the third alarm, the subscriber is sent a warning letter to request that corrective action be taken to stop further alarms. Beginning with the fifth alarm, the subscriber is charged $25 for each additional alarm. Beginning with the tenth alarm, the subscriber is charged $50 for each additional alarm. Beginning with the fourtenth alarm, the subscriber is charged $100 for each additional alarm, which is to be paid to the County tax collector within 14 days of receipt. If the civil penalty is not paid within the time prescribed in the citation, the appropriate personnel of the County may initiate a civil action in the nature of debt to collect such civil penalty.

There are several precautions you can take to help the Guilford County Sheriff's Office serve you better:

  • Secure the Premises: Be sure that all doors and windows are shut and locked before the alarm systems are armed.
  • Maintain Systems: Service systems regularly to guard against malfunctions. Periodically contact your monitoring company to stay informed of alarm activation's. The Sheriff's Office is not responsible for informing you of system activation's.
  • Educate Others: Be certain that family members and employees know how to properly operate the alarm. Be especially careful to let others know when the pass codes are changed.
  • Send Representatives: Police officers cannot thoroughly check your home or business if they cannot gain entry. Be sure that your monitoring company has a callout list of individuals who have keys to your property should you not be available to respond.
  • Back-Up Batteries: Have your back-up batteries checked or replaced on a regular basis.
  • For more information concerning the Alarm Ordinance or Sheriff response, contact a District Office Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm.
  • One of the most persistent problems facing local law enforcement today is the increasing demand for their services for responding to false alarms. Many local governments have passed legislation to help deal with the problem, including escalating fines for continued false alarms.

Businesses can help by:

  • Maintaining their system - Faulty equipment is a major cause of unnecessary alarms. Simple routine maintenance is crucial to ensure any alarm system’s reliability. Check with your alarm installer or manufacturer to find out what maintenance schedule you should follow. One or two checks per year by an alarm system specialist may be all that is needed to guarantee proper operation.
  • Training all users - Every system operator must be familiar with the system and properly trained in its use. All authorized users must know the code, and be notified immediately when management has changed it. They must also know how to quickly notify the alarm monitoring company of an accidental activation.
  • Develop a routine in arming the system - Before arming your system, be sure all doors and windows are closed and locked. Be sure no one is left on the premise. If someone will be remaining inside, make them aware that the alarm is being turned on. Finally, supply all system users with an alarm operator’s checklist.
  • Additional tips - Keep your alarm company informed of any custodial or cleaning service personnel that may be in your home or business while you are away. Also, keep all motion detector sensors aimed away from heating vents or windows where they may falsely activate due to heat movement (no motion detectors should be used in households with pets such as cats or dogs that can roam about the house while you are gone).

Sec. 11-2. Alarm systems

(a) Definitions. The following definitions shall apply throughout this section:

Alarm: Any electronic or mechanical device which emits any signal, whether electronic, audible, silent or recorded, and which is designed, intended or used for the detection of an unauthorized intrusion or an attempted intrusion into a building, structure or premises or to signal an actual or attempted robbery. "Alarm" shall include any device which initiates a telephone call and delivers a recorded message to any emergency telephone number assigned to the county communications center, the County of Guilford or the Guilford County Sheriff's Department; any procedure by which a third party telephones any emergency telephone number and requests law enforcement service on the basis of having received an automatic alarm signal from a subscriber or such person or an alarm business represented by such person; or an audible signal or siren that when sounded is detected by a third party that results in law enforcement response.

False alarm: Any alarm signal communicated by any means that solicits law enforcement response and to which:

The responding officer finds no evidence of unauthorized intrusion, attempted unauthorized intrusion, robbery or attempted robbery; or

Law enforcement response was cancelled by the alarm subscriber or his agent.

False alarms include negligently activated signals, signals which are the result of faulty or malfunctioning equipment, improperly installed or maintained equipment, signals activated to test the alarm system that have not been approved by the Guilford County Sheriff's Department and signals which are purposely activated to summon law enforcement personnel in nonemergency situations.

A false alarm shall not include an alarm which can reasonably be determined to have been activated by adverse weather conditions, a failure in the electrical power to the alarm or other condition beyond the control of the alarm user.

Subscriber: Any person, firm, corporation or partnership owning or leasing an alarm system or on whose premises an alarm system is maintained for the protection of such premises or property.

(b) Security alarm systems; false alarms; escalating civil penalty system. It is the responsibility of every subscriber to ensure that any alarm system utilized on his premises be properly installed, maintained and monitored to prevent negligent and/or excessive false alarm signals.

(1) First through fourth false alarms. If within any calendar year the sheriff's department responds to three (3) falsealarms at the same premises or location, the sheriff or his designee shall send a letter to the subscriber informing him of the false alarms and requesting that he initiate action to stop further false alarms and informing him of the consequences of continued false alarms, specifically the civil penalty fee. There will be no fee assessed for the first four false alarms within a calendar year.

(2) Fifth through ninth false alarms. Beginning with the fifth false alarm, a civil ticket with a civil penalty of $25.00 shall be issued for each additional false alarm through the ninth false alarm received within a calendar year.

(3) Tenth though fourteenth false alarms. Beginning with the tenth false alarm, a civil ticket with a civil penalty of $50.00 shall be issued for each additional false alarm through the fourteenth false alarm received within the calendar year.

(4) False alarms in excess of fourteen. For all false alarms in excess of fourteen received within the calendar year, a civil ticket with a civil penalty of $100.00 shall be issued.

(5) Alarm tests. Alarms activated during alarm system testing procedures shall not be considered false alarms if the subscriber first notifies and receives permission from the sheriff's department to test the system.

(6) Continuing audible alarms. All audible alarms shall be equipped with an automatic reset device that will reset and cease to sound the alarm after 30 minutes of continuous activation. An alarm that sounds continuously for a period of 30 minutes from the time officers arrive at the alarm location due to failure of the alarm to reset shall constitute a violation of this section. The subscriber shall reimburse the county for each violation of a continuing alarm activation at a rate of $10.00 per violation.

(c) Issuance of tickets and payment of civil penalties. Any deputy sheriff authorized by the sheriff may issue to the known owner of or person having control of any place of business or residence a civil penalty citation giving notice of the violation of the section. Any such deputy shall be authorized to secure the name and address of the owner or person in control of the place of business or residence found to be in violation of exceeding the number of alarms allowed.

Citations so issued may be delivered in person or mailed by registered mail to the person charged if he cannot readily be found. Each citation issued shall specify the civil penalty imposed based on the penalty system established in this section. Such civil penalty shall be paid to Guilford County within 14 days of receipt in full satisfaction of the assessed civil penalty. If the civil penalty is not paid within the time prescribed in the citation, the appropriate personnel of the sheriff's department mayinitiate a civil action in the nature of debt to collect such civil penalty.

(d) Other enforcement provisions. In addition to civil penalties, this section may be enforced by any remedy allowed by law, including, but not limited to, those remedies provided for in section 1-14 and section 1-15 of this Code.

(Ord. of 11-4-93, §§ 1--4)