Success for program aimed at false alarms in Middle Township
Written by Alex Davis, November 07, 2013
MIDDLE TOWNSHIP — Township police officers have been responding to fewer false burglary alarm calls since a new program was implemented in 2010.
That has meant that officers can focus their attention on other areas of law enforcement instead of responding to a false alarm, according to Middle Township Police Chief Chris Leusner.
“The false alarm program has exceeded my expectations,” he said. The program is intended to get people to register their alarms to maintain the reliability of and to properly use their systems. The ordinance, adopted by Township Committee in 2010, also includes permit fees, and fines for police having to respond to false alarms.
For each false alarm, two officers respond and spend an average of 25 minutes on scene. Now the officers are able to do other law enforcement tasks, thanks to the ordinance, Leusner said.
Since 2009, the program has resulted in a 31-percent reduction in false alarms, he said.
So far this year there have been just over 700 false alarms. From 2009 to 2010, there was a 4.7-percent decrease in false alarm calls, a 23.4-percent reduction from 2010-11, and from 2011-12, it went down by 6.7 percent.
“Many times officers and dispatchers would be wasting valuable time trying to locate an emergency contact from an unregistered alarm or failure to update their contact sheet on file,” according to the 2012 Middle Township Police Department’s annual report. “This ordinance will result in a decrease of false alarms, quicker response from emergency contacts, and a more efficient use of one of the most expensive costs we have; the time of a sworn law enforcement officer.”
Property owners are asked to make sure their alarm system company has Enhanced Call Verification. That gives the company alternative contact information so the system owner, for example, can be contacted before sending in township police.
This year, police officers have responded to more false alarms in Cape May Court House and communities to the north in Middle Township than other areas of the municipality, according to Leusner. In Cape May Court House alone, the number of false alarms amount to 194. Rio Grande totals 216, Leusner said.
Before putting in the place the new program in 2010, about 400 alarm systems were registered in the township. Today, the township has about 1,000 alarm systems signed up.
The township police contracts with PMAM Corp. to administer the alarm registration program. PMAM Corp. receives 22 percent and the township 78 percent of the revenue from permit fees and false alarm fines and fees.
Registration for the false alarm ordinance is $25 residents and $50 businesses and is done once a year.
People face fines if police respond three times to a false alarm at a business or home. The fine for a second police visit for a false alarm is $50, and is waived if the person takes a 10-question test online, Leusner said. For the third police visit, the fine amounts to $75.
For more information about the township’s false alarm program, see www.middlepd.org.
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