GREENVILLE CO., S.C. (WSPA) – Greenville County Council passed an amended ordinance at the end of March that gives stricter fines to people who have multiple false security alarms.
The amended ordinance is in line with other counties across the state.
Some of the businesses that have had issues with false alarms say it could be something as simple as the wind that triggers their alarm. Also, if they have high turnover like in a fast food restaurants, the alarm key holder responsibilities never get passed on to the next employee contact.
“We receive about 50 false alarm calls a day that could have been cancelled,” said Master Deputy Drew Pinciaro with the Greenville County Sherriff’s Office.
When the scope of the problem was brought to Councilman Lynn Ballard’s attention, it prompted him to make some changes.
“Chronic, chronic offenders, some 30 and 40 alarms in six months,” Ballard said.
According to data collected by the county, the worst offenders were businesses that racked up thousands in fines.
“A lot of the times the keyholder information is outdated, or we have bad numbers and stuff like that,” Pinciaro said.
Deputies respond to every call, but they weren’t able to get in touch with people to see if it was false which created the issue.
“The ultimate goal is to lower the amount of false alarms that we’re responding to and actually utilize that manpower for real calls,” Pinciaro said.
Ballard believes the county had a problem with false alarms because the old ordinance was generous.
“We allowed two false alarms every quarter before you got fined,” Ballard said.
The new ordinance allows two false alarms per year.
“In the past, after you had your two per quarter, you got fined $100 every time you had a false alarm,” Ballard said.
The amended Security Alarm Ordinance is below:
After two (2) false alarms within a calendar year, all additional false alarms during the calendar year shall be considered a violation of this article and shall be deemed a civil infraction and the alarm system user shall be subject to the following fines:
(1) 3-5 False Alarms within the calendar year shall be punishable by a fine of $50 per occurrence;
(2) 6 and 7 False Alarms within the calendar year shall be punishable by a fine of $100 per occurrence;
(3) 8 and 9 False Alarms within the calendar year shall be punishable by a fine of $250 per occurrence, and
(4) 10 or more False Alarms within the calendar year shall be punishable by a fine of $500 per occurrence.
City leaders say it’s not about the money. They want to keep residents safe.
“Hoping that this kind of encourages people to get their alarms in working order and fix some of the issues they’re having,” Pinciaro said.
Councilman Ballard says he plans to follow up at the end of June to see if the new fines are working in stopping false alarms.
The sheriff is giving people a grace period. The new fines won’t be enforced until January 1, 2018.