Northwest NEWS

December 28, 1998

Front Page

Sheriff no longer will respond to repeated false alarms

SEATTLE--Beginning January 1, King County Sheriff's deputies will no longer respond to premises with chronic false alarms. Homes and commercial businesses in unincorporated King County which have had four confirmed false alarms during the previous six months will be affected.

   "The King County Sheriff's Office believes in the crime prevention and crime reporting value of alarm systems," explains Sheriff Dave Reichert. "However, the toll on police resources from false alarms has reached the point that your Sheriff's Office can no longer respond to every alarm report it receives," he said.

   It's a little like the boy who cried wolf, although it isn't clear what will happen if the wolf strikes after the fourth false alarm.

   According to Captain Dick Baranzini of the Sheriff's Office, "it just costs too much" to send officers to each false alarm the county has.

   Once a premise reaches three alarms in a six-month period, the owner will receive a notice from the county advising them of the no-response status after the next alarm. The alarm-monitoring company, if any, will also receive the notice.

   The City of Woodinville will begin enforcing a similar program, though it will fine rather than not enforce.

   According to the Sheriff's Office, the goal is for the owner or alarm company to take steps to fix their system. Since 1994, the county has been working with other police agencies and alarm companies to educate home and business owners about the value of maintenance and training to reduce false alarms.

   "Our 1999 change is just another step in a series of actions to reduce the drain on police resources caused by false alarms," said Baranzini.