New proposal would charge residents when police are called to false alarms

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — FOX13 Investigates uncovered a new proposal that could cost you if police called to your home for a false alarm.

The proposal will require you to register your home security alarm and charge you big bucks if you don't. Officials say it's all about freeing up officers to investigate real crimes.

The city is putting out reminders before the new rules go into effect regarding security systems at the beginning of the year. Starting Jan. 1, 2020, the city is getting tougher and hoping property owners will get the message.

A.P. Providence told FOX13 his family needs their security system for protection.

"Keep the burglars out pretty much, they be around here slipping around here and stuff like that," Providence said. He said the system works. "Never had a false alarm."

That's good because starting next year, businesses, homeowners and renters will have to pay $140 if police respond to a second false alarm at their property.

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False alarms are a problem that has plagued Memphis for years, tying up an understaffed police force and costing taxpayers money.

According to an email from Memphis Police, in 2018 police and fire responded to 52,105 false alarms.  In 2019, police and fire responded to 47,748 false calls. The numbers are going down, but it is still a problem.

To help cut down on false alarms, the city wants all property owners with an alarm system to register with the Metro Alarm Office. The cost for a new permit is $30 for residents and $60 for commercial owners. Renewals drop to $10 dollars for residents and $25 for business owners.

Those fees may seem like a lot but consider the cost to deal with false alarms. According to figures from the Mayor's office, taxpayers spent more than $5,000,000 in 2018 on this issue and nearly $2,000,000 this fiscal year that is just half over.

The city said the new changes, especially the fines, are not meant to punish anyone but to get them to comply.

They said by registering your property with Metro Alarm, it will help improve 911 service in the event of an emergency because they up to date information about the property owner and contact number.

For more information on the changes and responsibilities for Alarm Owners, click here.