[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Town of Elsmere 3-9-1995 by Ord. No. 319. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Noise — See Ch. 143.
The purpose of this chapter is as follows:
To require a minimum standard of quality for all burglary, robbery and panic alarms in the Town of Elsmere that have been or will be installed in any structure or on any premises.
To promote a quick and safe responses to the need for police service while discouraging the misuse of the limited resources of the Elsmere Public Safety Department, thereby reducing a potentially unnecessary emergency response to false burglary, robbery and panic alarms.
To promote a uniform standard of responsibility for alarm vendors, alarm owners and all operators of alarm systems in any structure or on any premises installed to prevent or detect entries that could result in a burglary, robbery or other crime.
To regulate burglary, robbery and panic alarms and require the necessary permits for the operation of such units while establishing a user's fee for those owners or operators of such systems who's system repeatedly emit false alarms.
The following words terms and phrases shall have the following meanings to them for the purpose of interpreting, administrating and enforcing this chapter:
- ALARM PERMIT
- A certificate issued by the Elsmere Public Safety Department, which bears the signature of the Chief of Police and provides the expiration date of the permit.
- ALARM SYSTEM
- Any assembly of equipment, mechanically or electronically arranged to signal the occurrence of an attempted or illegal entry, robbery or other activity on or within a building or improvement requiring urgent attention to which the police are normally expected to respond.
- ALARM USER
- Any person, firm, partnership, association, corporation, company or organization of any kind which is in control of any building, structure or facility wherein an alarm system is installed, maintained or operated. In cases where the actual location in which the alarm is installed, maintained or operated is rented, leased or under some other arrangement not occupied or used by the owner, the actual lessee, renter or person(s) occupying the location shall be known as the "alarm user."
- ALARM VENDOR
- Any individual, partnership, corporation or other entity that, sells, leases, maintains, services, repairs, alters, replaces, moves or installs any alarm system.
- ANSWERING SERVICE
- A telephone answering service providing among its services the receiving on a continuous basis, through trained employees, emergency signals from alarm systems that are thereafter relayed by live voice to the ECC.
- AUTOMATIC DIALING DEVICE
- A device which is interconnected to a telephone line and programmed to select a predetermined telephone number and transmit by voice message or code signal an emergency message indicating a need for an emergency response.
- CENTRAL STATION SYSTEM
- A system, or group of systems, operated for customers by a firm, corporation or other entity in which the operations of electrical protection circuits and devices are transmitted to, recorded in, maintained or supervised from a central station having trained operators or guards in attendance at all times who have the duty to take appropriate action upon receipt of a signal or message, including the relay of messages by direct line to the ECC.
- CHIEF OF POLICE
- The Chief of the Elsmere Public Safety Department.
- The individual designated by the Chief of Police to issue permits and to administer the provisions of this chapter.
- DELAWARE ALARM ASSOCIATION
- The incorporated association representing the alarm and security companies doing business in the State of Delaware.
- DIRECT LINE
- A telephone line leading directly from a central station system or answering service to the ECC that is for use only to report emergency signals on a person to person basis.
- The Emergency Communications Center that is currently being utilized by the Elsmere Public Safety Department, which is used to receive emergency and general informational calls from the public which are to be relayed to the on duty officers of the Elsmere Public Safety Department.
- EMERGENCY NOTIFICATION INFORMATION
- The card sticker or other items that are supplied to anyone with an alarm by the Elsmere Public Safety Department, so that it may be displayed in such a manner that makes it visible from outside of the location that is alarmed and which contains the name and telephone number of a person who will respond if an alarm is activated at that particular location.
- FALSE ALARM
- The activation of an alarm system resulting in a police response caused by a mechanical failure, mechanical malfunction, improper maintenance or faulty installation, regardless of whether the alarm user is at fault; or the negligent or intentional activation of the sensors of an alarm system by act or omission of the alarm user, a person residing on or visiting the alarm user's premises or an employee of the alarm user, including but not limited to opening doors or windows protected by sensors, walking through or walking on areas protected by sensors, or by failing to prevent the activation of sensors by animals, displays, mechanical devices or other objects which the alarm user, a person residing on or visiting the alarm user's premises, or an employee of the alarm user has or reasonably should have control over.
- A. An alarm is not false if the alarm is activated by conditions that were not reasonably subject to the control of the alarm user, such as severe weather conditions, or under circumstances that would have caused a careful and prudent person to believe that criminal activity or an emergency was in progress at the premises.
- B. It shall be presumed that the alarm was false if the police officer responding to an alarm activation finds no evidence of criminal activity or an emergency at the premises.
- To connect an alarm system, including an automatic dialing device, to a telephone line, directly or through a mechanical device that utilizes a telephone, for the purpose of using the telephone line to transmit a message upon the activation of an alarm system.
- PERMIT YEAR
- From January 1 to December 31 of the same calendar year, beginning January 1 of 1995.
- PRIMARY TRUNK LINES
- A telephone line serving the ECC that is designed to receive emergency calls.
- The Town of Elsmere, Delaware.
Whenever a business or residence is comprised of more than one structure which is not connected and when each independent structure has installed in it an alarm system which is designed to detect an emergency in that structure only, each alarm activation occurring in such an unattached structure shall be considered as a separate premises.
Every alarm user shall annually obtain an alarm permit in accordance with this chapter prior to the installation and/or operation of an alarm system. Systems providing both burglary and robbery alarm services shall require only one permit. A permit is required for each alarm system installed in a building or improvement on a lot or parcel. The permit shall be physically located within the principal building or improvement on the premises, lot or parcel using the alarm system and shall be available for inspection by any law enforcement official upon request.
Permits required by this chapter shall be available from the coordinator by filing an application.
Each permit shall bear the signature of the Chief of Police and the expiration date of the permit. The permit shall be valid from January 1 or the date of issue through December 31 of the current calendar year at the time of the application. Every alarm permit shall automatically expire on December 31 of each calendar year, and every alarm user shall annually apply and renew an alarm permit as provided in this subsection.
Alarm vendors shall notify alarm users, both at the time of the sale and in the regular billings sent to the subscriber or alarm user (to the extent that the alarm vendor and alarm user have a continued business relationship), of the requirements of this chapter.
Every application for an alarm permit shall be made on forms which are prepared and furnished by the Public Safety Department. A copy of the application shall be provided to the alarm user, the Town's administrative office, and a copy shall be maintained by the Public Safety Department.
No application or the information contained thereon shall be made available to the general public, or disseminated by the Public Safety Department, except pursuant to a validly issued subpoena, or in the furtherance of a law enforcement activity, in which case the information may only be disseminated to other law enforcement agencies.
A user's fee of $50 is hereby established when a response by the Public Safety Department is required, due to an alarm activation, to a building, structure, parcel or lot when it is discovered that the alarm user does not possess a valid alarm permit. This user fee shall be made payable to the Town of Elsmere, Public Safety Department, and shall be paid within 10 days of the police response.
Whenever repeated false alarms are encountered at a premises, during the same permit year, the Public Safety Department shall assess the alarm user at that premises who possesses a valid permit the following user fees:
The user fee shall become due and owing immediately upon the date that notice is delivered to the alarm user's premises.
The user fee shall be made payable to the Town of Elsmere, Public Safety Department, and shall be paid within 30 days of the date in which the notice was delivered to the alarm user's premises. If the user fee is not paid within the thirty-day period provided, or if an appeal is not filed within that same thirty-day period, the alarm user's permit for that structure or premises shall become automatically revoked, and the notice shall so state. If an alarm user's permit is revoked, a new permit may be issued pursuant to § 63-8B, provided that the applicant complies with the terms of that subsection, pays the unpaid fees that lead to the revocation and an additional administrative fee of $100; such permit shall only be valid for the balance of the permit year in which it was issued. Any user fee assessed under this subsection shall automatically be doubled for a newly issued permit that was the result of a prior revocation within that permit year. The three-occurrence grace period shall also not apply to such newly issued permits.
Any police officer responding to an activated alarm system shall inspect the area protected by the alarm system and shall determine whether the emergency response was in fact required as indicated by the alarm system. If the police officer determines the alarm activation was false, the officer shall note on the report the false alarm. A copy of all false alarms shall be forwarded to the coordinator.
Once it is determined that an alarm user has had six false alarms within a permit year, the coordinator shall send written notice to the alarm user that the user's permit will be revoked. The permit will be considered automatically revoked if the alarm user does not file an appeal within 15 days of the notice, and the notice shall so state.
If an alarm user's permit is revoked, a new permit may be issued pursuant to § 63-6, provided that the applicant complies with the terms of that section as well as any other requirements that the Chief may deem necessary to reduce the number of false alarms, and that the user pays an additional administrative fee of $100. If a permit is issued under these circumstances, the permit shall only be valid for the balance of the permit year in which it is issued.
Any user fee assessed under this subsection shall automatically be doubled for a newly issued permit that was the result of a prior revocation within that permit year.
The three-occurrence grace period shall not apply to newly issued permits that were issued in accordance with this section.
Any alarm user shall be entitled to an appeal pursuant to this section, so long as the alarm user follows the following procedure:
The alarm user shall serve written notice upon the Chief within 15 days of the date of the notice to revoke, or the notice that a user fee is being imposed upon the alarm user, that the user requests to appeal the revocation or assessment of a user's fee.
At the time that the written notice of appeal is served upon the Chief, the alarm user shall also provide the Chief with a filing fee of $100.
The one-hundred-dollar filing fee shall be refunded to the alarm user if the false alarm giving rise to the user fee assessment or the revocation is determined to have been genuine or beyond the control of the alarm user or his representative, by the Hearing Board.
In the event that an alarm user request an appeal, the appeal shall be scheduled within a reasonable period of time, but in no event shall this time be more than 30 calendar days from the date which the alarm user notified the Chief of his intent to appeal in accordance with § 63-9.
The alarm user shall be provided with written notice of the date, time and location of the hearing at least 10 days prior to the date of the hearing.
The Hearing Board shall consist of the Chief of Police, the Town Manager and a representative of the Down Town Revitalization Committee. The Town Manager shall serve as Chairperson of the Hearing Board, and each member shall have an equal vote.
Evidence presented at the hearing. The alarm user shall have the right to present written and oral evidence, subject to the right of cross-examination by the Board. Additionally, the Board may admit written reports or oral statements of police officers and may take notice of general, technical or scientific facts within its specialized knowledge.
Board action. Upon a two-thirds vote, the Board may reverse or affirm the decision made by the coordinator.
Written notice and findings of fact following the hearing. A copy of the Board's decision shall be prepared promptly, but in no event shall it be delivered or mailed later than 15 calendar days after the Board vote. Unless announced immediately after the hearing with the alarm user present, a copy of the Board's findings shall be mailed or hand-delivered to the alarm user or his representative.
Any person or persons, jointly or severally aggrieved by any decision of the Hearing Board, may appeal the Board's decision to the Justice of the Peace Court pursuant to Delaware Code § 5917, Title 11. Any appeals to the Justice of the Peace Court shall be made within 30 days of service, or of the postmark date, of the copy of the written decision mailed by the Hearing Board to the aggrieved parties.
Any alarm vendor, user or person owing an outstanding user fee, who is subject to a revocation order, or who is otherwise in violation of the provisions of this chapter, shall not be issued any new permits until the user fees are paid and the alarm user complies with all of the provisions of this chapter.
Any alarm vendor or person subject to the provisions of this chapter that has an appeal outstanding at the beginning of a permit year shall be granted a temporary permit, which shall be valid for a period of 30 days.
Any fees imposed in accordance with the enforcement of this chapter that are not paid in accordance with the provisions of this chapter shall be assessed against the land or improved premises and shall, until paid, constitute a lien, from the time of filing against such land or improved premises in favor of the Town. The lien shall be perfected upon filing by the Town in the office of the Recorder of Deeds for New Castle County of a certification of lien setting forth the amount of such expense, including penalty.
The Town may at its discretion, instead of filing a lien in accordance with Subsection A of this section, deny any and all licenses or permits applied for by any person, persons or corporation that has failed to pay any fees assessed in accordance with this chapter until such time as all unpaid fees have been paid in full.
Applications for alarm permits shall be made on forms provided by the Elsmere Public Safety Department. Each application shall be signed by the legal owner of the structure or premises, or the legal owner's authorized agent. The application shall state the alarm user's name, and the address and telephone number of the alarm user's property to be serviced by the alarm. Any nonresidential alarm user shall also include the name of an individual employed by the applicant or his agent, who will represent the business or entity as its agent to receive any notice issued in accordance with this chapter. If the alarm user's alarm is serviced by an alarm company, the alarm user shall also include the name address and telephone number of that company. Every alarm user shall also provide the name, address and telephone number of at least one person who can be notified of an alarm activation and can respond to assist the police in the inspection of the property. The alarm user shall ensure that the information concerning this person is valid and that that person or their designee is available to respond at all times.
It shall be unlawful for any alarm vendor or alarm user to program an automatic dialing device to select a predetermined telephone number assigned to the ECC, and transmitted by voice message or code signal an emergency message indicating a need for an emergency response.
Within 60 days after the effective date of this chapter, all existing automatic dialing devices programmed to select any telephone line assigned to the ECC shall be reprogrammed or disconnected.
It shall not be unlawful for any alarm vendor or alarm user to program an automatic dialing device to an answering service or central station system with direct-line capabilities to the ECC.
Any financial institution that is required by regulations of federal supervisory agencies issued pursuant to the Bank Protection Act of 1968 to have an appropriate device for notifying the police that a burglary or robbery has occurred or is in progress may arrange to have the particular signaling device so installed in the ECC, provided that they have complied with all of the regulations, procedures and requirements which have been set forth by New Castle County concerning the installation of such devices.
No alarm user shall install, have installed or maintain a burglary, robbery or panic audible alarm system designed to be heard in the vicinity of the premises being protected unless the alarm will automatically shut down or cease emitting sound within 15 minutes after it is activated.
Anyone violating this section shall be fined not less than $50 nor more than $200 for each activation of an alarm system which is installed or maintained in violation of this section.
All existing burglary, robbery and panic alarm systems shall be brought into compliance with this chapter no later than 60 days after the effective date of this chapter by the Town Council.
Any alarm system, alarm user or alarm vendor not complying with any of the provisions of this chapter within 60 days of its effective date shall be in violation and shall be fined not less than $50 nor more than $200.