[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Woodstock 2-13-2001 by L.L. No. 1-2001. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The purpose of this chapter is to encourage alarm users and alarm companies to properly use and maintain the operational effectiveness of alarm systems and to reduce or eliminate false alarms which may unduly divert law enforcement, fire and/or medical emergency services from responding to criminal activities or other emergencies.
This chapter governs alarm systems intended to summon law enforcement, fire and/or medical emergency response, provides for penalties for violations, and establishes a system of administration.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated below:
- ALARM ADMINISTRATOR
- A person or persons designated by the governing authority to administer, control and review false alarm reduction efforts.
- ALARM COMPANY
- A business, operated by an individual, partnership, corporation or other entity, which sells, leases, maintains, services, repairs, alters, replaces, moves, installs or monitors an alarm system in an alarm site.
- ALARM DISPATCH REQUEST
- A notification to a law enforcement agency or fire department or medical emergency service that an alarm system signal, either manual or automatic, has been activated at a particular alarm site.
- ALARM SITE
- A single fixed premises or location served by an alarm system or systems.
- ALARM SYSTEM
- A device or series of devices, including but not limited to alarm 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 the law enforcement and/or fire protection and/or medical emergency service of the municipality. "Alarm system" shall not include an alarm installed on a vehicle or person unless the vehicle or personal alarm is permanently located at an alarm site.
- ALARM USER
- Any person, firm, partnership, corporation or other entity who or which uses or is in control of any alarm system at its alarm site.
- 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 or fire department.
- The process by which an alarm company providing monitoring verifies with Woodstock Emergency Dispatch and 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, fire department and/or medical emergency 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, fire department and/or medical emergency 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 or a danger or damage to the alarm site due to wind or flooding or animals or fallen trees or prolonged power outages after having completed a timely investigation of the alarm site. "False alarm" shall also mean an alarm dispatch request to a fire department when the responding fire department finds no evidence of a fire or a danger or damage to the alarm site due to acts of nature or prolonged power outages that would warrant such alarm dispatch request.
- HOLDUP ALARM
- A silent alarm system 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 Sheriff, Chief of Police, or the commissioner, superintendent or director of a law enforcement agency or an authorized representative. "Law enforcement authority" may also mean the fire chief or authorized representative of the fire department.
- 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 system signal only at the alarm site by an interior or exterior 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, fire department and/or medical emergency 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, e.g., 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, fire department and/or medical emergency response.
- An individual, corporation, partnership, association, organization or similar entity.
- SMOKE AND/OR HEAT DETECTOR
- Any device which, when activated by fire or smoke, is designed to alert to said emergency only the occupants of the building in which the smoke and/or heat detector is located.
- 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, fire department and/or medical emergency 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.
Each tenancy or apartment unit, if served by a separate alarm system in a multi-tenant building or complex, shall be considered a separate alarm site.
For purposes of enforcing this chapter against an individual residential or nonresidential alarm site, the tenant is responsible for false alarms emitted from the alarm system in the tenant's unit.
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 (whom the alarm user may predesignate by written notification to the Alarm Administrator) 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;
Cause the alarm site address to be posted in a conspicuous place, such as a mailbox, tree, signage where driveway meets the road or highway, and/or on a building facing the road or highway or common driveway;
Adjust the mechanism or cause the mechanism to be adjusted so that an alarm system signal audible on the exterior of an alarm site will sound for no longer than 15 minutes after being activated;
Have a properly licensed alarm company inspect the alarm system after two false alarms within a twelve-month period. The Alarm Administrator may waive an inspection requirement if it determines that the false alarm(s) could not have been related to a defect or malfunction in the alarm system. After four false alarms within a twelve-month period the alarm user shall have a properly licensed alarm company modify the alarm system to be more false alarm resistant or provide additional user training as appropriate. The alarm company shall fill out and return to the Alarm Administrator an Installer False Alarm Prevention Checklist (see Appendix A) provided by the Alarm Administrator; and
Editor's Note: Appendix A is on file at the Town Clerk's office.
Maintain at each alarm site a set of written operating instructions for each alarm system.
Upon enactment of this chapter, an alarm company shall not program an alarm system so that it is 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 an alarm user requests an alarm system inspection or modification pursuant to § 7-4A(5) of this chapter, an alarm company shall remove the one plus duress alarm capability from such alarm system.
Upon enactment of this chapter, an alarm company shall not install a device activating a holdup alarm which is a single-action nonrecessed button. An alarm company shall remove all single-action nonrecessed buttons when a takeover or conversion occurs.
After completion of an installation, an alarm company employee shall review with the alarm user the Alarm User False Alarm Prevention Checklist (see Appendix B) and provide the Alarm Administrator with a copy of said checklist.
Editor's Note: Appendix B is on file at the Town Clerk's office.
An alarm company performing monitoring services shall:
Report alarm system signals by using the telephone number(s) designated by the Alarm Administrator;
Document an attempt to verify every alarm system signal, except a duress or holdup alarm activation, before requesting law enforcement and/or fire department response to an alarm system signal;
Communicate alarm dispatch requests to the municipality in a manner and form determined by the Alarm Administrator;
Communicate cancellations to the municipality in a manner and form determined by the Alarm Administrator;
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, such as north, south, front, back, floor or unit number, etc., about the location of the alarm system;
Communicate the type of alarm system activation: silent or audible, interior or perimeter;
Provide the alarm user registration number when an alarm dispatch request is made;
Endeavor to contact the alarm user when an alarm dispatch request is made; and
Maintain, for a period of at least 12 months, records relating to alarm dispatch requests. Records shall 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. The Alarm Administrator may request copies of such records for individually named alarm users.
[Amended 9-10-2012 by L.L. No. 2-2012; 12-17-2013 by L.L. No. 2-2013]
The Alarm Administrator shall establish a procedure to record such information on alarm dispatch requests necessary to permit the Alarm Administrator to maintain records, including but not limited to the following information. The responding law enforcement officer shall relay this information at the time of clearance to emergency dispatchers, who shall then record said information on the call record.
Identification of the alarm site;
Date and time the alarm dispatch request was received;
Date and time of law enforcement officer arrival at the alarm site;
Zone, if available;
Name of alarm user or representative on premises, if any;
Identification of the responsible alarm company, if known;
Whether unable to locate the address; and
Cause of the alarm system signal, 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 law enforcement officer leaving a door hanger with a Notice of False Alarm at the alarm site and forwarding a copy of such notice to the Alarm Administrator (see Appendix C). [Appendix C shall be kept on file at the Town Clerk's office.] 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, in the judgment of the Alarm Administrator, an alarm system is not being used or maintained in a manner that ensures proper operation and suppresses false alarms, the Alarm Administrator may require a conference with the alarm user and the alarm company responsible for the repair of the alarm system to review the circumstances of each false alarm.
Abatement of nuisance authorized. Upon receiving a complaint regarding a continuous uninterrupted or continuously recurring alarm system signal, the police department and/or the fire department shall endeavor to contact the alarm user or designated representative(s) in an effort to abate the nuisance. In the event that the police department and/or the fire department is/are unable to contact the alarm user or those designated as contacts, or if the aforesaid persons cannot or will not curtail the audible signal being emitted by the alarm system, and if the police department and/or the fire department is/are otherwise unable to abate the nuisance, the police department or fire chief or incident commander may direct a law enforcement officer, fire department official or qualified alarm technician to enter in and upon the property, home or building in which the alarm system is located and take any action necessary to abate the nuisance.
Procedure and cost of abatement. After an entry upon the property has been made in accordance with this section, the police department and/or the fire department shall have the property secured, if necessary. The cost and expense of abating a nuisance in accordance with this section may be assessed to the alarm user.
Any alarm system which would be prohibited under the provisions of this chapter shall be removed or deactivated after conversion and/or takeover.
None of the provisions of this chapter shall apply to:
Penalties for violation of this chapter shall be as set forth in § 7-10A of this chapter. Enforcement may also be by civil action in the Town of Woodstock Justice Court or any other court of competent jurisdiction, upon resolution by the Woodstock Town Board to initiate such action.
[Amended 11-18-2008 by L.L. No. 2-2008]
An alarm company may be issued a civil citation:
If the law enforcement officer and/or fire department official responding to the false alarm determines that an on-site employee of the alarm company directly caused the false alarm.
For failure to verify, if the Alarm Administrator determines the existence of a consistent pattern or written policy against verification.
If the Alarm Administrator determines that an alarm company employee made a false statement concerning the inspection of an alarm site or the performance of an alarm system.
The Woodstock Town Board may, from time to time, adopt rules and regulations for the implementation and enforcement of this chapter.
[Amended 11-18-2008 by L.L. No. 2-2008; 9-10-2012 by L.L. No. 2-2012; 12-17-2013 by L.L. No. 2-2013]
An alarm user shall be subject to warnings and fines depending on the number of false alarms emitted from an alarm system within a calendar year beginning January 1 and ending December 31 based upon the following schedule:
Notice of fines shall be sent by certified mail from the Alarm Administrator to the property owner of the site of the false alarm. Fines shall be payable to the Town of Woodstock. If fines are not paid to the Town within 30 days of the date of the notice, the Town shall reserve the right to no longer respond to intrusion alarms emitted from the site of the false alarm.
If the alarm is cancelled prior to law enforcement arriving at the alarm site, this shall not be considered a false alarm for the purpose of warning or fines.
If the law enforcement officer responding to the false alarm determines that an on-site employee of the alarm company directly caused the false alarm, this shall not be considered a false alarm for the purpose of warning or fines.
[Amended 9-10-2012 by L.L. No. 2-2012; 12-17-2013 by L.L. No. 2-2013]
The responding law enforcement officer shall leave notice to the alarm user after each false alarm and shall provide a copy of such Notice of False Alarm to the Alarm Administrator. The notice shall conform to the stipulations contained in § 7-6C of this chapter and shall include the schedule of fines for each false alarm.
The Alarm Administrator shall notify the alarm user in writing and the alarm company, if known.
Any and all liability and consequential damage resulting from the failure to respond to an alarm system signal is hereby disclaimed and governmental immunity as provided by law is retained. Law enforcement, fire department and/or medical emergency response may be based on factors such as availability of police, fire and/or medical emergency units, priority of calls, weather conditions, traffic conditions, emergency conditions and staffing levels.