False alarm calls tie up city resources

False alarm calls tie up city resources

AMARILLO- Police are dispatched to dozens of burglar alarm calls daily.

After analyzing city records provided by the Amarillo Police Department, we discovered an overwhelming number of those calls turn out to be false.

This alarming problem is happening all across Texas and while it not only ties up law enforcement agencies, it's costing taxpayers millions of dollars each year and jeopardizing safety.

"We treat every alarm call as if it's a real alarm," Terry Bavousett with the Emergency Communications Center said. "We treat them that way because we don't know for sure until we arrive on scene."

Between January and May of this year, police responded to 4,667 alarm calls.

2,672, or roughly 57-percent, ended up being false.

"These situations take a minimum of two officers off the street that could be responding to other calls that might be high priority," Bavousett said.

Each city has the ability to decide the priority ranking of an alarm call.

In Amarillo, burglary alarms are rated as priority 1.

While police understand businesses and homes may have an occasional false alarm, there are numerous ones who have racked up one after another.

"We do have addresses that are flagged as alarm violators and we don't respond to those situations for burglar alarms," he said.

To help recoup some of the money lost with tying up police, the city has fines in place for violators.

"After 5 times, there is a $50 fine," commissioner Brian Eades said. "During this time of year when the weather is a problem, it's the appropriate time to go look and have your system inspected."

Alarm technicians say the number 1 trigger for a false alarm is when the power goes out and your back-up alarm battery fails.

Most alarm systems have a back up power source and should be replaced about every 7 years.

Alarm batteries can be purchased through your alarm company or at major electronic retailers.