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Mayor Greg Fischer Newsroom

Abramson: Reducing False Alarms Will Save Money, Increase Efficiency and Safety

Wednesday February 4, 2004

Mayor Jerry Abramson today unveiled a proposal to reduce the incidences of false alarms in the community, a problem that costs taxpayers $500,000 and police more than 19,000 work hours each year.

Louisville Metro Police respond to more than 43,000 alarms each year – about 99 percent of them are false alarms, Abramson said. “Responding to huge numbers of false alarms frustrates officers, costs taxpayer money and it wastes time that officers can use better addressing other situations and emergencies.”
In response, Abramson this month is forwarding to the Metro Council a proposed ordinance that mandates licenses for companies that sell alarm systems and for the technicians who install and make repairs to them. The proposal also calls for a series of graduated fines for alarm users who repeatedly trigger false alarms.

Of all the false alarms, 80 percent are attributed to 20 percent of the people with security systems, and the majority of false alarms are triggered by user error, Abramson said. “This problem costs valuable time. It costs money. And it creates inefficiency.”

Metro Councilwoman Ellen Call, R-26, said she is helping sponsor the proposed ordinance because “false alarms waste taxpayer money and police time. If we can eliminate most of them, we would free up thousands of hours of police time - time that can be spent making our community safer. The 19,000 hours wasted on false alarms is the equivalent of putting almost 10 new officers on the street.”

"False alarms are a deterrent to public safety because they needlessly drain valuable time and resources from our police officers," Councilman Ron Weston, D-13, said. "This ordinance has the potential to redirect 19,000 hours of police time back into our community to curb real crimes." Other co-sponsors of the proposal include: Ken Fleming, R-7, Bob Henderson, D-14, Kelly Downard, R-16, Glenn Stuckel, R-17, Stuart Benson, R-20, Robin Engel, R-22, Dan Johnson, D-21, Madonna Flood, D-24, Doug Hawkins, R-25.

The ordinance, which is patterned after similar provisions in cities such as Cincinnati and St. Louis, would charge a $100 license fee with an annual renewal charge of $100 to companies that sell, maintain a replace alarm systems. Alarm companies must have a licensed technician on their staffs under the ordinance.

Alarm companies also will be required to make two attempts to reach a home or business owner in the event an alarm goes off to verify that an actual emergency has taken place. In the first instance of a false alarm, the responding police officer will leave a written notification of a violation.
In the case of repeated false alarms, a series of graduated fines will be charged to the alarm user, ranging from $50 to $300 for each violation. A series of fines also will be charged for violations of “hold up” alarms, such as those used at banks. Fines will range from $250 to $1,000 for each violation.
“The vast majority of false alarms are triggered by user error,” Abramson said. “In other communities, fines for repeated false alarms have served as an incentive to ensure that the alarm system is properly maintained a properly used.”

The money generated by the fines will pay for a third party to administer the program, Abramson said.