[Adopted 8-15-1980; amended through 6-18-2007]
Pursuant to Chapter 5, formerly Section 28 of Article XXV of the General By-Laws of the Town of Lexington, these rules and regulations for police alarms are hereby adopted, effective September 15, 1980, as amended on November 14, 1988, on August 5, 1991, on December 16, 1991 and on July 1, 2007.
The alarm history in Lexington from 1991 through 2006 provided statistical evidence that less than 1% of alarm activations involve criminal conduct. The model burglar alarm ordinance drafted by the National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association and the False Alarm Reduction Association was used as a resource.
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- ALARM COMPANY
- A person or business that sells, provides, monitors, maintains, services, repairs, alters, replaces, moves or installs an alarm system. This includes an individual or business that installs an alarm system for his or its private or proprietary facilities.
- ALARM OFFICER
- A designee of the Police Department responsible for administration of the alarm program. The Alarm Officer is charged with the responsibility of reviewing alarm activations, service fee billing, reporting on problematic alarm systems and serving as a resource to the community.
- ALARM SYSTEM
- A device or series of devices that emits or transmits a remote or local audible, visual or electronic signal indicating an alarm has been activated and is intended or is likely to result in the summoning of police services. This does not include an alarm installed in a vehicle unless the vehicle is permanently located at the site.
- ALARM USER
- Any homeowner, renter, lessee, or other resident and any renter, lessee, or owner of a business or other establishment or building (other than a government facility) who is primarily responsible for an alarm system and/or an activation of the alarm system.
- ALARM VERIFICATION
- An alarm that has been independently verified by a third party other than the Police Department confirming that the alarm was activated as the result of a crime or incident requiring the police to investigate.
- AUTOMATIC VOICE DIALER
- Any electronic, mechanical or other device that, when activated, automatically contacts the Police Department by telephone, radio or other means requesting police services through a prerecorded message or other automated system.
- The notification of the Police Department by the person who initially requests police response to a non-high-risk alarm activation that the situation does not require a police response.
- CONTACT PERSON
- One or more individuals, or a private business, that can respond to the alarm location to assist police and fire services to thoroughly inspect the property, secure unlocked doors and windows, deactivate or reset an alarm, and/or take responsibility for protected property.
- FALSE ALARM
- Any alarm where a responding officer(s), having completed a timely investigation of the alarm site, finds no reasonable evidence of a criminal offense. False alarms include avoidable alarms whereby the alarm activation caused by noncriminal behavior could have been avoided with simple preventative measures.
- HIGH-RISK ALARMS
- Include panic, duress, silent, robbery, holdup and/or any similarly labeled alarm that suggests the alarm has been manually activated and a crime is in progress or there is some other life threatening event. High-risk alarms also include commercial establishments, such as gas stations, banks, jewelry stores and/or businesses with cash or valuables commonly victimized by robbery or commercial thefts.
- NUISANCE ALARM
- Any alarm that activates repeatedly and/or unnecessarily within the same twenty-four-hour period, emits an outside audible that does not reset after 10 minutes, emits an outside audible that sounds more than twice from the same activation, and/or when the Chief of Police, or a designee, determines the alarm is a nuisance due to a violation(s) of these rules and regulations.
Alarm users are prohibited from using and alarm companies are prohibited from installing automatic voice dialers. A violation of this rule is punishable by fine.
Alarm activations that are not high-risk alarms should be reported to the Police Department on the published business telephone line. Known emergencies should be reported by dialing 9-1-1. Other special lines may be designated by the Police Chief to report alarm activations.
An alarm company that monitors alarm systems with the purpose of reporting alarm activations to the Police Department shall register all alarm systems monitored by the company located within Lexington annually between January 1 and January 15. If registering 10 or more alarms, the list must be provided in alphabetical order by name. Whenever there is a change, the alarm company will register, within two weeks, any new and removed alarm systems or when there has been a change to the required registration information.
An alarm company without registration information must coordinate with the alarm user and/or the person or business that retains the registration information and confirm that each alarm system is properly registered. Without confirmation that an alarm system is properly registered, alarm verification is required prior to reporting the alarm activation to the Lexington Police Department.
An alarm user with an alarm company is excused from registering his or her alarm if an alarm company has registered the same alarm system. The alarm user and the alarm company are responsible for coordinating who will register the alarm system.
An alarm user without an alarm company is responsible for registering a local audible, visual or electronic signal indicating an alarm has been activated and is intended or is likely to result in the summoning of police services. The address, name of the person responsible for the alarm system and phone number of the property must be provided annually between January 1 and January 15 and/or within two weeks of a change to this information.
No fee. There is no fee for registering an alarm system. The costs for police service to false alarms will be carried by those alarm users whose alarm system(s) causes three or more false alarms in a calendar year.
No registration is required if the residence or business has no local audible, visual or electronic signal that alerts a neighbor or passing person that an alarm has been activated and for other types of alarms where the alarm user or alarm company provides alarm verification. In these instances, no false alarm will be reported to the Police Department.
Recommendation; use of contact person. When registering an alarm system, the Police Department will accept the name of and encourages the use of a contact person. This information will be used when there is an alarm activation to help protect the property or to avoid additional false alarms.
Register: insure that the alarm is properly registered.
Maintain: insure that the alarm system is properly installed and maintained to minimize or eliminate false alarms (including equipment that prevents false alarms during regional power outages and severe storms). If two false alarms are received in a calendar year, the alarm system should be inspected, repaired if needed, and/or the alarm user(s) should receive additional training in the use of the alarm system.
Train: insure that all persons who may activate the alarm are properly trained in the use of the alarm system and/or have the means to disarm and rearm the alarm system without causing a false alarm.
Proper use. Adjust the alarm system so that an alarm's audible signal sounds for no longer than 10 minutes after being activated. The alarm shall be programmed to sound or cycle not more than twice during any single activation. The alarm user shall not intentionally cause a false alarm resulting in a police response to the alarm site. Any violation of this subsection is punishable by a fine.
Proper installation. The alarm company shall install alarm systems that meet current industry standards and offer alarm users written and oral instructions as to the proper use of the system. The alarm company should make regular maintenance, upgrades and remedial training available to the alarm users.
High-risk alarms. Alarm companies should clearly distinguish high-risk alarms when reporting an alarm activation to the Police Department. High-risk alarms will be given a high-priority police response.
Reporting alarm. The alarm company representative, when reporting an alarm activation, should provide when available the nature of the alarm, the owner's name and the address of the alarm, the location within the address where the alarm was activated, and any other pertinent information that may assist police officers to safely investigate the alarm.
Cancellation: An alarm cancellation should be reported to the Police Department as soon as it is learned that a police response is not required. Cancellations received prior to police arrival will not result in a service fee. No cancellation will be accepted for high-risk alarm activations.
The Police Chief, or his designee, may suspend police response to any alarm where an undue number of false alarms have occurred and/or where an alarm user or alarm company does not reasonably comply with any provision of the police alarm bylaw.
High-risk alarms will be given a priority police response and will not be suspended without the prior investigation by the alarm officer or other designee as to the reasons for excessive false alarms.
Residential alarm. When there have been three false alarm activations in a twenty-four-hour period, the Police Chief or designee may suspend further police response to the alarm for up to three days. When there have been eight false alarms that are subject to the alarm service fee, the Police Chief or designee may suspend further police response for any period of time thereafter.
Nonresidential alarm. When there have been three false alarm activations in a twenty-four-hour period, the Police Chief or designee may suspend further police response to the alarm for up to three days. When there have been 10 false alarms that are subject to the alarm service fee, the Police Chief or designee may suspend further police response for any period of time thereafter.
Restoration of service. The Police Chief or designee may authorize restoration of police response when an alarm user or alarm company reasonably demonstrates that he or it has taken appropriate measures to prevent additional false alarms and/or has come into full compliance with these rules and regulations.
Residential. An alarm service fee of $80 will be assessed on the third and each subsequent false alarm in a calendar year. The alarm service fee for the first and second alarm will not be assessed, provided no additional false alarms occur during the calendar year; these fees will be deferred and included in part proportionately in each service fee for the third and subsequent false alarm, up to and including the eighth false alarm.
Nonresidential and high-risk alarms. An alarm service fee of $120 will be assessed on the third and each subsequent false alarm in a calendar year. The alarm service fee for the first and second alarm will not be assessed, provided no additional false alarms occur during the calendar year; these fees will be deferred and included in part proportionately in each service fee for the third and subsequent false alarm, up to and including the 10th false alarm.
All false alarm activations that occur in one calendar day will be counted as one false alarm.
When possible, the Police Department will leave notice of each false alarm activation at the residence or business and provide a written letter of warning on the second false alarm.
Alarm service fees are not subject to appeal. However, the Police Chief, alarm officer or other designee will accept written documentation that outlines mitigating circumstances for the false alarms and the measures being taken by the alarm user to prevent future false alarms. The Chief of Police is authorized to waive service fees.
An alarm user with five or more alarm service fees, unpaid for a period of six months, will be given a final written notice of the fees owed. The alarm user has 14 days to make full payment; otherwise the alarm user is subject to an additional fine.
An alarm user and/or an alarm company may be fined for violations of these rules and regulations. The levels of fines to be assessed by the Police Department are subject to Town Meeting endorsement.
In the interest of public safety, all employees or representatives of the Town of Lexington will hold confidential all information contained in alarm registrations and/or information that specifically identifies an alarm system.
Alarm registration is not intended to, nor will it, create a contract, duty or obligation, either expressed or implied, of response. Any and all liability and consequential damages resulting from the failure to respond to a notification are hereby disclaimed. Governmental immunity, as provided by law, is retained. By registering an alarm, the alarm user and the alarm company acknowledge that law enforcement response may be influenced by factors such as, but not limited to, the availability of police units, priority of calls, weather conditions, traffic conditions, emergency conditions, staffing levels and prior response history.