[HISTORY: Adopted by the Borough Council of the Borough of Baldwin 1-15-2001 by Ord. No. 753, effective 4-1-2001. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Police Department — See Ch. 41.
Buildings, numbering of — See Ch. 80.
Fire prevention — See Ch. 89.
Editor's Note: This ordinance also repealed former Ch. 62, Alarm Systems, adopted 10-21-1991 by Ord. No. 628, as amended 12-19-1994 by Ord. No. 676.
The purpose of this chapter is to encourage alarm users and alarm companies to properly use and maintain the operational effectiveness and proper utilization of alarm systems and to reduce or eliminate false alarms which may unduly divert law enforcement from responding to criminal activity.
This chapter governs systems intended to summon law enforcement and fire response, and requires registration, establishes fees, provides for penalties for violation, establishes a system of administration, and sets conditions for suspension or loss of registration.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- ADVISORY BOARD
- Persons designated by a governing authority that should be representative of the community, alarm industry, and law enforcement. The Advisory Board should review and recommend false alarm reduction efforts and report to the governing authority (City Council, County Board, etc.).
- ALARM ADMINISTRATOR
- A person or persons designated by the governing authority to administer, control and review false alarm reduction efforts.
- ALARM COMPANY
- The business, by an individual, partnership, corporation or other entity, of selling, leasing, maintaining, servicing, repairing, altering, replacing, moving, installing or monitoring an alarm system in an alarm site.
- ALARM DISPATCH REQUEST
- A notification to a law enforcement agency that an alarm, either manual or automatic, has been activated at a particular alarm site.
- ALARM REGISTRATION (or PERMITS)
- The notification by an alarm company or an alarm user of the Alarm Administrator that an alarm system has been installed and is in use.
- ALARM REVIEW BOARD
- Should consist of five members as follows: The Chief of Police or designee, Borough Secretary or designee, member of Borough Council or designee, a representative of the Fire Department or designee, and an at-large appointee of the Borough Council that cannot be resolved at a first level. All appointees shall serve at the pleasure of Council.
- ALARM SITE
- A single fixed premises or location served by an alarm system or systems. Each tenancy, if served by a separate alarm system in a multitenant building or complex, shall be considered a separate alarm site.
- ALARM SYSTEM
- A device or series of devices, including, but not limited to, systems interconnected with a radio frequency method such as cellular or private radio signals, which emit or transmit a remote or local audible, visual or electronic signal indicating an alarm condition and intended to summon law enforcement services of the municipality, including local alarm system. "Alarm systems" does not include an alarm installed in a vehicle or person unless the vehicle or personal alarm is permanently located at a site.
- ALARM USER
- Any person, firm, partnership, corporation or other entity who (which) uses or is in control of any alarm system at its alarm site.
- ALARM USER AWARENESS CLASS
- A class conducted by the municipality or law enforcement agency for the purpose of educating alarm users about the problems created by false alarms and responsible use and operation of alarm systems.
- AUTOMATIC VOICE DIALER
- Any electrical, electronic, mechanical or other device capable of being programmed to send a prerecorded voice message, when activated, over a telephone line, radio or other communication system to a law enforcement agency.
- CANCELLATION or RESPONDING AGENCY ALARM DISPATCH CANCELLATIONS
- The process by which an alarm company providing monitoring verifies with the alarm user or responsible party that a false dispatch has occurred and that there is not an existing situation at the alarm site requiring law enforcement agency response.
- The transaction or process by which one alarm company begins monitoring of a previously unmonitored alarm system or an alarm system previously monitored by another alarm company.
- DURESS ALARM
- A silent alarm system signal generated by the manual activation of a device intended to signal a life-threatening situation or a crime in progress requiring law enforcement response.
- FALSE ALARM
- An alarm dispatch request to a law enforcement agency, when the responding officer finds no evidence of a criminal offense or attempted criminal offense after having completed a timely investigation of the alarm site.
- HOLDUP ALARM
- A silent alarm signal generated by the manual activation of a device intended to signal a robbery in progress.
- A device that allows control of an alarm system by the manual entering of a coded sequence of numbers or letters.
- LAW ENFORCEMENT AUTHORITY
- The Commissioner, Superintendent, Sheriff and Chief of Police,
director of a law enforcement agency or an authorized representative.
The term "law enforcement authority" is also to include fire chiefs,
public safety officials, emergency management coordinator or authorized
representatives of same.[Amended 6-12-2018 by Ord. No. 889]
- A license issued to an alarm company to sell, install, monitor, repair or replace alarm systems by an authority having jurisdiction.
- LOCAL ALARM SYSTEM
- Any alarm system that annunciates an alarm only by an internal or external audio device.
- The process by which an alarm company receives signals from an alarm system and relays an alarm dispatch request to the municipality for the purpose of summoning law enforcement response to the alarm site.
- ONE PLUS DURESS ALARM
- The manual activation of a silent alarm signal by entering at a keypad a code that adds one to the last digit of the normal arm/disarm code (normal code = 1234; one plus duress code = 1235).
- An audible alarm system signal generated by the manual activation of a device intended to signal a life-threatening or emergency situation requiring law enforcement response.
- An individual, corporation, partnership, association, organization or similar entity.
- The transaction or process by which an alarm user takes over control of an existing alarm system, which was previously controlled by another alarm user.
- An attempt, by the alarm company or its representative, to contact the alarm site by telephonic or other electronic means, whether or not actual contact with a person is made, before requesting law enforcement dispatch, in an attempt to avoid an unnecessary alarm dispatch request.
- Subdivisions into which an alarm system is divided to indicate the general location from which an alarm system signal is transmitted.
No alarm user shall operate, or cause to be operated, an alarm system at its alarm site without a valid alarm registration issued by Baldwin Borough. A separate registration is required for each alarm site.
An additional alarm registration classification shall be required for alarm systems programmed with duress alarm or holdup alarm.
The annual fee for a registration or registration renewal for a residential alarm site shall be $5 and for a commercial site shall be $60, and should reflect the administration cost. No refund of a registration or registration renewal fee will be made. The initial annual registration fee must be submitted to Baldwin Borough within five days after the alarm installation or alarm takeover. A registration occurring on or before June 30 shall be charged the full annual fee. A registration occurring after June 30 shall be charged 1/2 the annual fee.
An additional fee established by Baldwin Borough shall be assessed for an alarm system programmed with duress alarm or holdup alarm.
Upon receipt of a completed application form and the alarm registration fee, Baldwin Borough shall register the applicant unless the applicant has:
Each alarm registration application must include the following information:
The name, complete address (including apartment or suite number), and telephone numbers of the person who will be the registration holder and be responsible for the proper maintenance and operation of the alarm system and payment of fees assessed under this chapter.
The classification of an alarm site shall be either residential (including single-family dwelling, duplexes, condos, and/or mobile homes) or commercial site.
For each alarm system located at the alarm site, the classification of the alarm system, i.e., burglary, holdup, duress, or other, for each purpose, whether audible or silent.
Mailing address, if different from the alarm site.
Any dangerous or special conditions present at the alarm site.
Name and telephone numbers of at least three individuals who are able and have agreed to receive notification of an alarm activation at any time; respond to the alarm site within 30 minutes; and upon request can grant access to the alarm site and deactivate the alarm system if such becomes necessary.
Type of business conducted at the alarm site.
Signed certification from the alarm user stating:
The date of installation, conversion or takeover of the alarm system, whichever is applicable;
The name, address, and phone number of the alarm company performing the alarm system installation, conversion or alarm system takeover and responsible for providing repair service to the alarm system;
The phone number of the alarm company monitoring the alarm system, if different from the installing alarm company;
That a set of written operating instructions for the alarm system, including written guidelines on how to avoid false alarms, has been left with the applicant; and
That the alarm company has trained the applicant in proper use of the alarm system, including instructions on how to avoid false alarms.
The law enforcement response may be based on factors such as availability of police units, priority of calls, weather conditions, traffic conditions, emergency conditions, staffing levels, etc.
Any false statement of a material fact made by an applicant for the purpose of obtaining an alarm registration shall be sufficient cause for refusal to issue a registration.
An alarm registration cannot be transferred to another person or alarm site. An alarm user shall inform Baldwin Borough of any change that alters any information listed on the registration application within five business days.
All fees owed by an applicant must be paid before a registration may be issued or renewed.
A tenant of an apartment with an alarm system shall obtain an alarm registration from Baldwin Borough before operating or causing the operation of an alarm system in the tenant's residential unit. The owner or property manager of an apartment complex shall obtain a separate alarm registration of any alarm system operated in offices or common areas of the apartment complex. The annual fee for these registrations or the renewal of these registrations shall be the same as the fee for a commercial alarm site. Each building, regardless of the number of units contained therein, shall be deemed as one commercial alarm site and shall pay the annual registration fee for a commercial alarm site.
A registration shall expire one year from the date of issuance and must be renewed annually by submitting an updated application and a registration renewal fee to Baldwin Borough. Baldwin Borough shall notify each alarm user of the need to renew 30 days prior to the expiration date. Failure to renew will be classified as use of a nonregistered alarm system, and citations and penalties shall be assessed without waiver. A twenty-five-dollar late fee can be assessed if the renewal is more than 30 days late.
An alarm user shall:
Maintain the premises and the alarm system in a manner that will minimize or eliminate false alarms.
Make every reasonable effort to respond or cause a representative to respond to the alarm system's location within 30 minutes when notified by the municipality to deactivate a malfunctioning alarm system, to provide access to the premises, or to provide alternative security for the premises; and should the alarm user either refuse to respond or not respond within 30 minutes, then he/she shall be subject to a fine not to exceed $300.
Not manually activate an alarm for any reason other than an occurrence of an event that the alarm system was intended to report.
An alarm user shall adjust the mechanism or cause the mechanism to be adjusted so that an alarm signal audible on the exterior of an alarm site will sound for no longer than 10 minutes after being activated (or 15 minutes for systems operating under Underwriters Laboratories, Inc., Standard 365 or 609).
An alarm user shall have a properly licensed alarm company inspect the alarm system after two false alarms in a one-year period from the date of registration issuance or renewal. Baldwin Borough may waive an inspection requirement if it determines that a false alarm(s) could not have been related to a defect or malfunction in the alarm system to be more false alarm resistant or provide additional user training as appropriate. See Appendix A for Installers False Alarm Prevention Checklist.
An alarm user shall not use automatic voice dialers.
An alarm user shall maintain at each alarm site, a set of written operating instructions for each alarm system.
Upon enactment of this chapter, alarm companies shall obtain a permit from Baldwin Borough to sell maintenance and/or service alarm systems in the Borough prior to installation of same. The fee shall be $50 for each permit issued.
Upon enactment of this chapter, alarm companies shall not program alarm systems so that they are capable of sending one plus duress alarms. Alarm companies may continue to report one plus duress alarms received from alarm systems programmed with one plus duress prior to enactment of this chapter. However, upon enactment of this chapter, when a takeover or conversion occurs, or if an alarm user requests an alarm system inspection or modification pursuant to § 62-6C of this chapter, an alarm company must remove the one plus duress alarm capability from such alarm system.
Upon enactment of this chapter, alarm companies shall not install a device activating a holdup alarm, which is a single-action nonrecessed button. An alarm company must remove all single-action nonrecessed buttons when a takeover or conversion occurs.
Upon enactment of this chapter, alarm companies shall use control panels tested for conformance to the Security Industry Association (SIA) Control Panel Standard — Features for False Alarm Reduction.
An alarm company performing monitoring services:
Shall offer a training period in which no request for dispatch by law enforcement will occur during the first seven days after installation of an alarm system, but rather will use that week to train the alarm user on proper use of the alarm system, unless circumstances necessitate immediate requests for response, as determined by Baldwin Borough;
Report alarm signals by using telephone numbers designated by Baldwin Borough;
Attempt to verify every alarm signal, except a duress and holdup alarm activation, before requesting a law enforcement response to an alarm system signal;
Communicate alarm dispatch requests to the municipality in a manner and form determined by Baldwin Borough;
Communicate cancellations to the municipality in a manner and form determined by Baldwin Borough;
Ensure that all alarm users of alarm systems equipped with a duress or holdup alarm are given adequate training as to the proper use of the duress or holdup alarm;
Communicate any available information (north, south, front, back, floor, etc.) about the location of the alarm;
Communicate type of alarm activation (silent or audible, interior or perimeter);
Provide alarm user registration number when requesting dispatch;
Endeavor to contact the alarm user when an alarm dispatch request is made; and
Upon enactment of this chapter, alarm companies that perform monitoring services must maintain, for a period of at least one year, records relating to alarm dispatch request. Records must include the name, address, and phone number of the alarm user, the alarm system zone(s) activated, the time of alarm dispatch request and evidence of an attempt to verify. Baldwin Borough may request copies of such records for individually named alarm users.
Baldwin Borough can appeal to an appropriate governmental body regulating the alarm company to suspend or revoke the alarm company's license when the alarm company fails to comply with the duties listed in § 62-7. In the event Baldwin Borough cannot obtain required information about the alarm company from the governmental body regulating the alarm company, Baldwin Borough can require the alarm company to supply the required information in a registration with Baldwin Borough.
Baldwin Borough shall establish a procedure to record such information on alarm dispatch requests necessary to permit Baldwin Borough to maintain records, including, but not limited to, the following information. This information may be relayed by the responding officer at the time of clearance to law enforcement dispatchers, who will then record said information on the call record.
Identification of the registration number for the alarm site;
Identification of the alarm site;
Date and time alarm dispatch request was received;
Date and time of law enforcement officer arrival at the alarm site;
Zone, if available;
Name of alarm user's representative on premises, if any;
Identification of the responsible alarm company;
Whether unable to locate the address; and/or
Cause of alarm, if known.
The Alarm Administrator shall establish a procedure for the notification to the alarm user of a false alarm. Options include, but are not limited to, the officer leaving a door hanger or notice at the alarm site. The notice shall include the following information:
The date and time of law enforcement response to the false alarm;
The identification number of the responding law enforcement officer; and
A statement urging the alarm user to ensure that the alarm system is properly operated, inspected, and serviced in order to avoid false alarms and resulting fines.
If there is reason to believe that an alarm system is not being used or maintained in a manner that ensures proper operation and suppresses false alarms, Baldwin Borough may require a conference with an alarm user and the alarm company responsible for the repair of the alarm system to review the circumstances of each false alarm.
The Alarm Administrator shall oversee the creation and implementation of an alarm user awareness class. The Alarm Administrator may request the assistance of alarm companies and a law enforcement agency in developing and implementing the class. The class shall inform alarm users of the problems created by false alarms and teach alarm users how to operate their alarm systems without generating false alarms.
An alarm user shall be subject to penalties, warnings and suspension or revocation of registration depending on the number of false alarms emitted from an alarm system within a twelve-month period from the date of registration or renewal, based upon the following schedule:
In addition, any person operating a nonregistered alarm system (whether suspended or never acquired) will be subject to a citation and assessment of a two-hundred-dollar penalty for each false alarm, in addition of any other penalties.
An alarm user shall have the option of attending an alarm user awareness class in lieu of paying one prescribed penalty.
If cancellation occurs prior to law enforcement arriving at the scene, this is not a false alarm for the purpose of penalties, and no penalties will be assessed.
The alarm company shall be issued a civil citation if the officer responding to the false alarm determines that an on-site employee of the alarm company directly caused the false alarm. In this situation this will not be counted against the alarm user.
The alarm company may be penalized for failure to verify if the Alarm Administrator determines the existence of the consistent pattern or written policy against verification.
The alarm company can be penalized if the Alarm Administrator determines that an alarm company employee make a false statement concerning the inspection of an alarm site or the performance of an alarm system.
Alarm Administrator may suspend alarm response if it is determined that:
The alarm user has four or more false alarms in one year;
There is a false statement of a material fact in the application for a registration;
The alarm user has failed to submit a written certification from an alarm company that complies with the requirement of this chapter, stating that the alarm system has been inspected and repaired (if necessary) by the alarm company.
A person commits an offense if he/she operates an alarm system during the period in which his alarm registration is suspended and is subject to enforcement and penalties set in § 62-15. An alarm company commits an offense if it continues to request law enforcement dispatch to an alarm site after notification by the Alarm Administrator that the registration has been suspended or revoked and is subject to enforcement and penalties set in § 62-15.
The Alarm Administrator shall notify the alarm user in writing after the first, second, and third false alarms. The notification shall include the amount of the penalty for each false alarm, notice that the alarm user can attend alarm user awareness class to waive a penalty, the fact that response will be suspended after the fourth false alarm, and a description of the appeals procedure available to the alarm user.
The Alarm Administrator will notify the alarm user and the alarm company in writing after the fourth false alarm that alarm response has been suspended. This notice of suspension will also include the amount of the penalty for each false alarm and a description of the appeals procedure available to the alarm user and the alarm company.
An alarm user may appeal the assessment of a penalty, suspension, or request reinstatement to the Alarm Administrator. An appeal fee of $25 will accompany the appeal by the alarm user. Appeal fees will be returned to the alarm user if the appeal is upheld. The filing of an appeal with the Alarm Administrator stays the assessment of the penalty or suspension until the Alarm Administrator makes a final decision.
The alarm user shall file a written appeal to the Alarm Administrator by setting forth the reasons for the appeal within 10 days after receipt of the penalty.
If the Alarm Administrator denies the issuance or renewal of an alarm registration or suspends response, the Alarm Administrator shall send written notice of the action and a statement of the right to an appeal to either the applicant or alarm user and the alarm company.
A second level of appeal is available to the Alarm Review Board in cases where the alarm user is not satisfied with the decision reached at a lower level.
The applicant, alarm user or the alarm company on behalf of the alarm user may appeal the decision of the Alarm Administrator to the Alarm Review Board by filing a written request for a review, setting forth the reasons for the appeal within 20 days after receipt of the notice from the Alarm Administrator.
The Alarm Review Board shall conduct a formal hearing and consider the evidence by any interested person(s). The Board shall make its decision on the basis of the preponderance of evidence presented at the hearing. The Board must render a decision within 30 days after the request for an appeal hearing is filed. The Board shall affirm or reverse the assessment of the penalty. The decision of the Board is final as to administrative remedies of the municipality.
Filing of a request for appeal shall stay the action of the Alarm Administrator suspending a registration or requiring a payment of a penalty until the Alarm Review Board has completed the review. If a request for an appeal is not made within the twenty-day period, the action of the Alarm Administrator is final.
A person whose alarm response has been suspended may have alarm response reinstated by the Alarm Administrator or the Alarm Review Board if the person has abided by one or more of the following:
Submits an updated application and the registration fee.
Pays or otherwise resolves all citations and penalties.
Submits a certification from an alarm company that complies with the requirements of this chapter, stating that the alarm system has been inspected and repaired (if necessary) by the alarm company.
Payment to the Borough of Baldwin for reinspection and reinstatement of a fee in the amount of $50.
And one or more of the following, if applicable:
Submits proof that an employee of the alarm company caused the false alarm.
Files with the Alarm Administrator a certificate showing that the alarm user has successfully completed the alarm user awareness class as provided under § 62-9E.
Files with the Alarm Administrator a written statement from the municipal alarm inspector designated by the Police Department that the alarm or alarm system has been inspected and found to be in good working order or repaired so as to be in good working order.
Any person who shall violate any provision of this chapter shall, upon conviction thereof, before the District Magistrate, pursuant to citation filed, be sentenced to pay a fine of not less than $50 nor more than $300 and cost of prosecution or, in default of payment of such fine and costs, to undergo imprisonment for not more than 30 days.
Information contained in registration application and applications for appeals shall be held in confidence by all employees or representatives of the municipality and by any third-party administrator or employees of a third-party administrator with access to such information.
Registration of an alarm system 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 damage resulting from the failure to respond to a notification is hereby disclaimed and governmental immunity as provided by law is retained. By registering an alarm system, the alarm user acknowledges that police response may be based on factors such as availability of police units, priority of calls, weather conditions, traffic conditions, emergency conditions, staffing levels.