New alarm ordinance allows one free violation per year

INDIANAPOLIS - Changes to the city’s alarm ordinance will impact any Hoosiers that have a home or business security system.

In some ways, the ordinance will be more forgiving for a false alarm, but violations will also become more expensive.

Indianapolis officials said the changes will take some confusion out of the current ordinance and alarm owners will get one free violation per year.

The city doesn't know how many alarm systems there are throughout Indianapolis, but city officials do know when they alert. Each alarm gets a response from the appropriate public safety agency.

"There are a few places where they have a high amount of alarm runs for whatever reason, but our main goal is to catch burglars and thieves and prevent that from happening," Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department spokesman Lt. Chris Bailey said.

False alarm revenues have proved an important and sustainable source of funding for the police department and the city.

In 2013, Indianapolis homeowners and businesses accounted for nearly 51,000 alarms. Experts say 2014 is on track to record even more alarms.

Alarm-system owners were cited for 13,599 false alarms in 2013. Just over 10,000 alarm owners have paid their fees and fines for total 2013 revenues of  nearly $452,000.

Under the new alarm ordinance, homeowners and businesses will get one free false alarm per year as opposed to one free false alarm for the total life of the system.

The schedule of fees and fines will get even more expensive, including $200 fines for each and every violation after five.

"As it is now, it will take a fifth or sixth subsequent violation to a full-fledged court process. It is costly, overbearing for the citizens or the business of the city. So this will allow us to continue to cite those individuals and then choose whether or not the nuisance citation is viable," Deputy City Controller Brett Wineinger said.

The new schedule of fees and fines will take effect Jan. 1 of 2015. It has the potential to raise even more revenue that will help offset the cost of responding to alarms.

Follow Jack Rinehart on Twitter: @jackrinehart6

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