SANDY SPRINGS, Ga. - The city has revoked the registration of 39 alarm companies that citizens use to keep their homes and businesses safe.
The 39 include: Ackerman, ADT, Protection Concepts, Sonitrol, Actio Alarm, XFINITY Home, SimplexGrinnell, Strong Security, Tyco Integra, Safecom Security, Stanley Security, Own Security, Protection One, Nationwide, Paragon System, AFA Protection, Phoenix System, Mid South Security, Sunbelt Tech, Security Sal, Rock Solid Security, Safe Home Security, Banner Security, Nichols Security, Convergint Technologies, Live Watch, New Georgia, Consumer Security, Safe Security, Callaway Security, Ede Systems, Alarm Force, Interlink Co., Security Cen, Twelve & Assoc., RTA Security, Hometronics, Atlanta Alarm, and Patterson Security.
This means, if the alarm goes off in your house and you use one of the 39 revoked companies for your security needs, no one is coming to help.
Why? Well, according to the city, these companies have not paid fines for violating its false alarm ordinance. The city has stated that false alarms “unnecessarily tie up essential public safety personnel.”
In 2016 alone, public safety officials received more than 11,000 false alarm calls. Those made up 98% of the total calls received and cost more than $775,000.
"It takes several minutes for the dispatcher to take the call and then once we dispatch a car that is tying up that officer, tying up a resource responding to an alarm that we know over nine times it is not going to be anything to it. It is going to be a false alarm," Sandy Springs Police Dept. Deputy Chief Keith Zgonc said.
These companies were required to pay fines within 30 days of issuance but have yet to do so. In response, Sandy Springs police will no longer respond to alarms if those homes or businesses are associated with any of the companies.
So far, only 14 of the 39 companies are 120 days past due.
The city put this ordinance into effect in September of 2017 and since then, companies have been fined approximately $475,000. According to the city, only $156,000 of those fines have been paid.
Companies do get chances to avoid getting put on a non-response list but at a cost. The first offense costs $25, the second and third costs $250, the fourth offense costs $500.
If a company has four violations within a 24-month period, an address can be put on that non-response list.
“In making changes to the ordinance, the alarm companies challenged us to hold them accountable, and we are complying with that request. If an alarm user failed to pay his alarm company, how long would the alarm company provide ongoing service?” asked Sandy Springs City Attorney Dan Lee. “This is no different.”
What if Sandy Springs decided to fine citizens?
"Many other jurisdictions have tried that," Lee said. "It hasn't curtailed the false alarms. Only by addressing it with the monitoring companies, the entity that calls our 911 center are we able to control it."
Police will no longer respond to burglar alarms associated with the companies but will continue to respond to panic, duress, holdup and fire alarms. Individual 911 calls will also receive a response.