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Saturday, January 19, 2008

False Alarms on the Decline

By James Tinley, Register Staff
MILFORD — False alarms are dropping off, despite a sharp rise in the number of active security systems in the city, Police Chief Keith Mello said Wednesday.

Mello said this trend keeps officers from wasting time responding to false alarms, and protects the public from the resulting speeding cruisers with lights and sirens blaring.

“When officers respond to a hold up or a burglar alarm, they have to assume there is a crime being committed,” Mello said. “That puts officers and the public at risk the more times they have to respond to these calls.”

In 2004, 1,602 security systems were registered with the Police Department.

Those 1,602 alarms were the source of 3,250 alarms to which the police responded.

In 2007, the number of active security systems has surged to 3,269, but police responded to just 2,693 alarms, or a 17 percent drop in false alarms, said police spokesman Officer Vaughan Dumas. Dumas took the lead on an aggressive campaign to lower the incidence of false alarms.

By city statute, every alarm system has to be registered with the Police Department. If a particular system is the source of too many false alarms, fines are imposed.

Dumas said he lowered the fine but also reduced from six to three the number of chances someone has before being fined.

On someone’s third false alarm, a letter is also sent telling the owner of the problem and ways to fix it.

The owner must prove that the problem is fixed or he or she will be fined.

If police have to respond to another alarm, the owner will fined $50. The fine increases with each subsequent offense.

Board of Police Commissioners Chairman L. Kenneth Fellenbaum said the downswing in false alarms exemplifies Mello’s efforts to “do more with less money. I do believe everything flows down from the top and this is one of those examples of a good thing the chief is doing,” Fellenbaum said Thursday.



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