What is a False Alarm?
Oxnard's Alarm Ordinance, Section 11-63 (Q) defines a false alarm as:
"An alarm to which responding personnel, having investigated the alarm site, find no evidence of a situation requiring a response by such personnel, or, except for an alarm based on fire or medical emergency, find that the alarm site contains one or more unsecured exterior doors or windows. A false alarm includes an alarm caused by a power outage, but does not include an alarm caused by a force majeure or an extraordinary condition not reasonably within the control of the alarm business or alarm user. False alarms include situations involving an authorized person or persons at the alarm location who do not use the proper alarm code."
Examples of False Alarm Events:
- Malfunctioning alarm systems
- Owner, visitor, real estate agents, cleaning crews or other employee error in disarming the alarm system
- Doors or windows left open or ajar
- Animals locked inside and moving about the premises
- Mail being dropped through a door mail-drop slot
- Power outages coupled with improper battery back-up system
- Telephone line problems
- An overly-sensitive system that activates when persons rattle a door or window
- Drapes or balloons blowing in the breeze
- Improperly secured doors or windows blown open by wind
False alarms are a public safety issue!
Studies across the nation have estimated that about 98% of alarm calls received by communications centers are false alarms. During 2018, the Oxnard Police Department responded to 4,789 alarm calls (3,103 commercial and 1,720 residential). Oxnard’s alarm call rates bear this out: 99.3% of commercial alarms and residential alarms in 2018 were false. Given the high percentage of false alarms, it is clear that the Police Department’s response to false alarms, and the time spent investigating these calls is an inefficient use of resources and time. At any given time of the day, these calls compete with other calls for service.
Given the high percentage of false alarms, it is clear that the Police Department’s response to false alarms, and the time spent investigating these calls is an inefficient use of resources and time. At any given time of the day, these calls compete with other calls for service.
Oxnard's Alarm Ordinance
Oxnard's new alarm ordinance went into effect on February 7, 2019. The ordinance promotes alarm user responsibility and accountability.
Oxnard's Alarm Ordinance incorporates measures to reduce the percentage of false alarms. According to the Security Alarm Industry Coalition (“SAIC”), studies have shown that “enhanced call confirmation” (“ECC”) policies and practices can prevent the vast majority of false alarms. The proposed Ordinance introduces ECC as a prerequisite to alarm companies requesting a police response to one of its client locations. ECC requires the alarm company to attempt to reach two (2) pre-designated contacts before requesting a police response. According to the National Monitoring Center, many agencies that have adopted ECC practices are reporting between a 60-70% decrease in false alarm responses. This reduction translates to increased officer availability to respond to other service demands.
Excessive False Alarms and Alarm User Responsibility
Oxnard's alarm ordinance is designed to promote alarm user responsibility. Those alarm users whose alarm sites generate excessive alarm call responses by the Police Department will be fined. An "excessive" alarm location is defined in the Ordinance Section 11-63(P) as "The occurrence of two (2) or more false alarms, generated by an alarm user's alarm system, within a twelve (12) month period."
These standards apply to locations that are professionally monitored, as well as those locations that have "monitor it yourself" alarm systems.
When a location is deemed to have excessive false alarms, the alarm user will be fined $145 for each additional response within a twelve month period.
Those locations that demonstrate over five false alarm responses during a twelve month period may be subject to an alarm permit suspension or revocation. A suspension or revocation will result in fines up to $290 per response. It may even result in being placed on a "do not respond" status until the alarm user pays the fines, reinstates their permit, and obtains proof from their alarm company that the alarm was inspected and was found to be in good working order.
For additional information on false alarm reduction, the permitting procedure and billing information, contact the Oxnard Police Alarm Administrator at (805) 385-7672, or at email@example.com.
Information about the alarm permit process can be found here.