[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Webster 7-19-2001 by L.L. No. 4-2001. Amendments noted where applicable.]
This chapter shall be known as the "Local Law Regulating Alarm Systems in the Town of Webster."
It is the purpose of this chapter to protect and promote the health, safety and general welfare of the residents of the Town of Webster by reducing the number of avoidable alarms to emergency agencies. Avoidable alarms contribute to ineffective utilization of public safety, manpower and equipment. In addition, avoidable alarms require emergency responses, which may contribute to a high accident rate and delay responses to genuine emergencies. This chapter seeks to ensure that police will be available for dispatch for actual emergencies and to alleviate the nuisance of audible alarms in the Town.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- ALARM SYSTEM
- A device or an assembly of equipment which emits an audible response, which is intended to alert persons outside a premises to the existence of a hazard or emergency or which is intended to alert emergency agencies by automatically dialing an emergency agency or which is connected to a private answering point for the purpose of reporting such alarms to emergency agencies or which is directly connected to an emergency agency.
- ALARM USER
- Any person who owns, leases or uses an alarm system within the Town of Webster except for a person whose alarm system is on a motor vehicle or is a proprietary system. If, however, an alarm system on a motor vehicle is connected with an alarm system at a premises (other than a proprietary system) in the Town of Webster, the person using such system is an alarm user.
- AVOIDABLE ALARM
- The activation of an alarm system through mechanical failure, malfunction, improper installation or the negligence of the owner, user, custodian or lessee of an alarm system or of his employees or agents through direct connection to an emergency agency or through notification of an emergency agency by a private answering point or automatic dialing device or through notification to an emergency agency by any second party or means, indicating that an emergency situation exists requiring responses within the Town when, in fact, an emergency situation does not exist. An avoidable alarm also includes the knowing or intentional activation of an alarm to an emergency agency when the activator knows that an emergency situation does not exist. Avoidable alarm does not include alarms activated by violent conditions of nature such as hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes or any other similar cause beyond the control of the user of the alarm system. Activation of an alarm system under any circumstances in which the activator reasonably believes that an emergency situation exists is not an avoidable alarm. Notwithstanding any language to the contrary, the defective installation of an alarm system, the failure to repair or cause to be repaired an alarm system or the use of defective equipment in connection with an alarm system shall not constitute an extraordinary circumstance beyond the reasonable condition of the alarm user.
- EMERGENCY AGENCY
- Any police department, fire department or other law enforcement agency or ambulance company (public or private) or other agency summoned to respond to an emergency situation and any public safety answering point serving the Town of Webster.
- LOCAL ALARM SYSTEM
- A signaling system which, when activated, causes an audible signaling device to be activated outside the premises within which the system is installed.
- OWNER OF RECORD
- The designated owner of the property where the alarm is installed per current Town of Webster Tax Assessment records.
- Any person, firm, partnership, corporation, association, company or organization of any kind.
- PRIVATE ANSWERING POINT
- A business which offers the service of receiving emergency signals, monitoring said signals and relaying them to an emergency agency.
- PROPRIETARY SYSTEM
- An alarm, sounding and/or recording within the premises protected by the alarm, which is not intended to alert persons outside of the premises on which the alarm system is located of a possible hazard and is not intended to alert an emergency agency, the control center being under the supervision of the proprietor of the protected premises. If a proprietary system includes a signal line connected directly or by means of an automatic device to an emergency agency or to a private answering point or to a local alarm system, it thereby becomes an "alarm system" as defined in this chapter.
- POLICE CHIEF
- The Police Chief of the Town of Webster or his acting designee.
- Any person who owns, leases, contracts for or otherwise obtains a fire alarm system or burglar alarm system. A person or entity may be both a subscriber and an alarm business.
- The Town of Webster.
The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to proprietary systems.
The provisions and requirements of this chapter shall apply to all persons who are alarm users on the effective date of this chapter and to all persons who subsequently become alarm users.
Whenever an emergency agency files an avoidable alarm report with the Police Department, such report shall contain the following information:
All local alarm systems shall become deactivated and silenced automatically after a period of time not to exceed 15 minutes.
Police and/or fire officials may disable any audible alarm signal that has not been silenced prior to the expiration of the fifteen-minute period and shall not be liable for any damage that may result.
Every subscriber maintaining an audible alarm shall post a notice containing the names and telephone numbers of the persons to be notified to render repairs or service and secure the premises during any hour of the day or night that the alarm is actuated. Such notice shall be posted near the alarm in such a position as to be legible from the ground level adjacent to the building where the alarm system is located. In lieu thereof, such person may maintain such information with the Fire Marshal and Fire District in the case of fire alarm systems or the Police Department in the case of burglar alarm systems.
Fire Department or Police Department officers or any peace officer may disable any activated alarm, and neither the Fire Department nor such official shall be liable for any damage that may result.
Avoidable alarms are strictly prohibited and are the responsibility of the owner of record of the property where the alarm is installed or titled owner of the motor vehicle in the case of an automobile alarm. Town of Webster assessment records shall determine property owner of record.
The Police Chief or his designee, in the case of burglar alarm systems, shall investigate written reports of each alleged avoidable alarm or alleged violations of other provisions of this chapter. Notice of said written report alleging violation shall be given to the alarm owner of record.
The person alleged in violation of this chapter shall be given notice of the investigation and an opportunity to be heard during the investigative process. The Police Chief may hold a hearing if, in his sole discretion, it is deemed appropriate.
Upon completion of his investigation, the Police Chief shall make a determination, which shall be final. The Police Chief shall give notice of said decision to the person alleged to be in violation.
A final determination of the Police Chief may be appealed to the Town's Alarm Users Review Board.
Any alarm user who shall be determined by police personnel to have issued more than three false alarms in any one twelve-month period shall be liable for a civil penalty of $50 Any additional false alarm in such twelve-month period shall subject the user to a civil penalty of $100 for each such subsequent false alarm.
The Chief of Police or his designee shall maintain records of all false alarms reported pursuant to this chapter. A warning letter may be sent at the discretion of the Chief of Police to any alarm user who shall have permitted up to three false alarms in any twelve-month period. When a fourth or subsequent false alarm is transmitted during a twelve-month period, the Chief of Police shall assess the civil penalty as provided herein and give notice of the same to the alarm user by certified mail, return receipt addressed, to the address. Such notice shall contain information as to the right of review of such determination. The civil penalty must be paid within 15 days from the date assessed or, in the alternative; the alarm user must file a written request with the Police Chief for review of the civil penalty before the Town Board. Payment of the amount assessed shall be stayed pending such hearing. If no hearing is requested, such civil penalty shall be final and shall become a lien against the owner of record of the property if not paid within 45 days from the date when assessed. All civil penalties which become liens against the property shall be collected by special assessment levy against the affected tax parcel on the next Town tax bill.
All remedies shall be cumulative, and the use of one or more remedies by the Town shall not bar the use of any other remedy for the purpose of enforcing the provisions of this chapter. The amount of any fee shall be deemed a debt to the Town of Webster. An action may be commenced in the name of the Town of Webster in any court of competent jurisdiction for the amount of any delinquent civil penalty.
The Webster Town Board shall be the designated Alarm Users Review Board who shall hear and determine all requests for review of any civil penalty assessed pursuant to this chapter by the Chief of Police. The Alarm Users Review Board shall be comprised of a quorum of members of the Town Board. The Board shall have the authority, for good cause, to set aside or reduce any civil penalty assessed against an alarm user. The determination of the Board shall be subject to review in the Supreme Court by a proceeding under Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules. Such proceeding shall be instituted within 30 days after the determination shall have been filed with the Town Clerk and a copy of the same mailed to the last known address of the alarm user.
Abatement of civil penalties. The Alarm Users Review Board may excuse or reduce any civil penalty assessed by the Chief of Police whenever it determines that a person other than the alarm user was responsible for the false alarm or that there is reasonable cause to believe such alarm was the result of an unauthorized entry or attempted entry. Such Board may not excuse any penalty on account of equipment failure, defective installation or servicing of any alarm device.
Records of avoidable alarms shall be deemed to be confidential.
All information on applications pertaining to avoidable alarms shall not be deemed confidential insofar as it is necessary to conduct any litigation under this chapter or to be provided to appropriate officials for fire protection or police protection purposes.
The Police Chief, or his designee, in the case of burglar alarm systems, shall retain all records regarding avoidable alarm reports, investigations and all other data necessary for compliance with this chapter. These records shall be retained pursuant to New York State guidelines on record retention.
In the event that the provisions of this chapter are inconsistent with the provisions of any ordinance, law or regulation of the Town of Webster heretofore adopted, the provisions of this chapter shall be applicable and shall supersede such inconsistent prior provision. However, in such event, only the prior provisions inconsistent with any provisions of this chapter shall be deemed superseded and all other provisions in any such heretofore adopted ordinance, law or regulation not inconsistent with the provisions of this chapter shall continue in full force and effect.