False alarm calls are the number one call for service for the Sheriff’s Office and take a large number of law enforcement man hours.
When an officer responds to a false alarm, it means he or she is not available to do routine patrols, or answer other calls. This unit was established to keep track of alarms, identify those that are chronically a problem, and to help correct those problems through the use of courtesy notices left on the premises at each false alarm, and monetary fines after the limit of free responses is reached .
Monroe County regulates alarms through its False Alarm Ordinance. All businesses, banks and residential homes which have an alarm installed are allowed a designated number of false alarms per year. After this number has been met, a fine is charged for any additional false alarms answered at that residence. When deciding upon an alarm system, make sure you have a person professionally trained in alarms perform the installation. Make sure the alarm is a high quality system - it is better to get a quality system that costs more at the beginning, than to pay a large amount of money in false alarm fines every year.
If you would like to know more about the False Alarm Ordinance, or if you would like someone to help you select a quality alarm system, call the local substation in your area. Click here for contact information.
ORDINANCE NO. 008 - 1990
AN ORDINANCE REGULATING BURGLAR OR ROBBERY ALARMS BY PROVIDING DEFINITIONS, REQUIRING THE FILING OF CERTAIN INFORMATION REGARDING THE BURGLAR ALARM SYSTEM AND USER WITH THE SHERIFF'S OFFICE; PROVIDING FOR CERTAIN BURGLAR AND ROBBERY ALARM EQUIPMENT; PROVIDING FOR SEVERABILITY; PROVIDING FOR REPEAL OF ALL ORDINANCES OR PARTS THEREOF IN CONFLICT HEREWITH; PROVIDING FOR INCLUSION IN THE MONROE COUNTY CODE; AND PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE DATE.
Whearas, Officers of the Monroe County Sheriff's Office must respond to all burglar or robbery alarm calls whether false or not;
Whearas, responding to false burglar or robbery alarm calls ties up Officers and equipment and shortchanges the rest of the public from the police protection for which their tax dollars pay;
Whearas, it has been determined by the Sheriff's Office that the cost of responding to premises which are the site of repeated false burglar or robbery alarms is approximately $100.00 per false alarm; and
Whearas, it is desired to levy a service charge for repeated false burglar or robbery alarms; now, therefore
BE IT ORDAINED BY THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF MONROE COUNTY, FLORIDA that:
Section 1. Purpose of ordinance
The purpose of this ordinance is to establish a service charge for burglar or robbery alarm users whose systems repeatedly result in false alarms. The charge is not intended to be a penalty but rather to compensate the Sheriff's Office and general taxpayers for wasted Officer personnel hours and wear on equipment used in responding to false burglar alarms.
Section 2. Scope of regulations
This ordinance will apply to unincorporated Monroe County.
Section 3. Definitions.
a) Alarm user means the person or other entity that owns, possesses, controls, occupies, or manages any premises as defined below.
b) Burglar/Robbery alarm system means any assembly of equipment, mechanical or electrical, arranged to signal the occurrence of an illegal entry or other activity requiring urgent attention and to which the Sheriff's Office may reasonably be expected to respond, but does not include fire alarms or alarms installed in motor vehicles. If a fire alarm is connected to a burglar alarm system, this section shall not apply to false alarms that the alarm user proves were generated by the fire alarm portion of the system.
c) False Burglar/Robbery alarm means a signal from a burglar/robbery alarm system that elicits a response by the Sheriff's Office when no emergency or threatened criminal activity requiring immediate response exists. This definition includes signals activated by negligence, accident, mechanical failure, and electrical failure; signals activated intentionally in non-emergency situations; and signals for which the actual cause of activation is unknown. It is rebuttable presumption that a burglar alarm is false if personnel responding from the Monroe County Sheriff's Office do not discover any evidence of unauthorized entry, criminal activity, or other emergency after following normal police operating procedures in investigating the incident. An alarm is not false if the alarm user proves that 1. an individual activated the alarm based upon a reasonable belief that an emergency or actual or threatened criminal activity requiring immediate response existed; or 2. the alarm system was activated by lightning or an electrical surge that caused physical damage to the system, as evidenced by the testimony of a licensed alarm system contractor who conducted an on-site inspection and personally observed the damage to the system.
d) Premises means the building or structure or portion of a building or structure upon which is installed or maintained a burglar/robbery alarm system.
Section 4. Filing of Alarm Information
A burglar/robbery alarm user shall file the following information with the district substation of the Monroe County Sheriff's Office that serves the premises where the alarm system is located: 1. the names of individuals able and authorized to enter the premises and deactivate the alarm; 2. emergency telephone numbers by which those individuals can be reached at all times; 3. the name and telephone number of the alarm company monitoring the alarm system, if applicable; 4. the name and telephone number of the alarm company that installed the system, if different from the monitoring entity; and 5. the name and address of the alarm user. This information must be kept current and failure to update this information within 48 hours of any change constitutes a violation of this section.
Section 5. Required Equipment in a Burglar/Robbery Alarm
A burglar/robbery alarm user shall not install or use a burglar or robbery alarm system unless it is equipped with:
a) a backup power supply that will become effective in the event of a power failure or outage in the source of electricity from the utility company;
b) a device that automatically silences the alarm within thirty (30) minutes after activation and
c) a frequency other than those assigned to any police department.
Section 6. False Burglar/Robbery Alarms Prohibited.
No burglar/robbery alarm user shall cause, allow or permit its burglar alarm system to give six or more false alarms in any calendar year.
Section 7. Service Charge
a) the Sheriff's Office shall not levy a service charge for responding to the first six false burglar or robbery alarms at premises in a calendar year. for the seventh and all other false burglar or robbery alarms in that calendar year the Sheriff's Office shall be entitled to a service charge on a sliding scale per false burglar or robbery alarm, to-wit:
I. For the seventh false burglar alarm in one calendar year, by a service charge of $10.00.
II. For the eighth false burglar alarm in one calendar year, by a service charge of $25.00.
III. For the ninth and each additional false alarm in one calendar year, by a service charge of $75.00.
Section 8. Notification of False Alarms.
The Sheriff's Office shall send, by certified mail return receipt requested, to the burglar or robbery alarm user, an invoice for each false burglar or robbery alarm for which a service charge is due. The alarm user shall be responsible for paying the service charge to the Sheriff's Office within thirty days of his receipt of the invoice. The employment by the alarm user of an alarm installation, monitoring or maintenance firm or security firm shall not relieve the alarm user of the responsibility for the payment of false alarm service charges. All past due service charges may be collected in the name of Monroe County by either counsel to the Sheriff's Office or the County Attorney's office through any available means. All false burglar or robbery alarm service charges collected shall be turned over to the Clerk of the Circuit Court for deposit in the fine and forfeiture fund.
Section 9. Enforcement.
Records for Sections 4 and 5 shall be maintained at the Alarm Control Unit of the Monroe County Sheriff's Office.
Section 10. Penalties.
Any violation of Sections 4 or 5 of this ordinance may be prosecuted in the same manner as a misdemeanor. Violations of Section 5 may also be prosecuted before the County's code enforcement board or pursuant to Chap. 76-435, Laws of Florida.
Section 11. If any section, subsection, sentence, clause or provision of this Ordinance is held invalid, the remainder of this Ordinance shall not be affected by such invalidity.
Section 12. All ordinances or parts of ordinances in conflict with this Ordinance are hereby repealed to the extent of said conflict.
Section 13. The provisions of this Ordinance shall be included and incorporated in the Code of Ordinances of the County of Monroe, Florida, as an addition or amendment thereto, and shall be appropriately renumbered to conform to the uniform numbering system of the Code.
Section 14. This Ordinance shall be filed in the Office of the Secretary of State of the State of Florida, and shall become effective one hundred twenty (120) days after the date of its enactment.
Passed and adopted by the Board of County Commissioners of Monroe County, Florida, at a regular meeting of said Board held on the 27th day of March, A.D., 1990.
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This web site was last updated April 8, 2004