APD kicks off new false alarm reduction program

Press release from Asheville Police Department:

Asheville, NC (May 11, 2022):  The Asheville Police Department will soon implement a new program which should reduce the number of false alarm calls in the city.

On May 16, Central Square-CryWolf will conduct alarm management for APD, and City of Asheville residents and businesses are required to register their alarm systems in order to comply with the new program.

Since 2018, 97% of both residential and business alarms have been reported as false alarms, which unnecessarily drains police resources.  False alarms are not only expensive but also divert law enforcement resources from real emergencies.

In June 2021, an amended alarm ordinance based upon the Security Industry Alarm Coalition’s (SIAC) best practices, was adopted by Asheville City Council.  In conjunction with the ordinance, CryWolf will now take ownership of the alarm system management and billing. Having this service outsourced will prove to be an efficient and economical means to reduce false alarms, supporting both the alarm owner and the police.

The ultimate goal for the City is to reduce false alarms, not to collect fees.

Other communities have had great success reducing the number of false alarms when they require alarms to be registered and assess cost recovery for false alarms. Cities using this system have reduced the number of false alarms by as much as 70% in one year after implementing an alarm registration system.

Asheville City residents and businesses are required to register their monitored alarm system, and the alarm system permit fee is $25.00, with an annual renewal fee of $10.00.  Additionally, there will be no penalty for registered alarm system owners for the first two false alarms.  A series of graduated fines start on the third false alarm with a $50 penalty and increasing with successive false alarms. Failing to register an alarm could result in a $100 fine.

To supplement these strategies, alarm companies will be required to follow Enhanced Call Verification (ECV) which requires the alarm monitoring company to call a responsible party or key holder to confirm the alarm before notifying the Asheville Police Department.  If the first person cannot be reached, there is a requirement to contact a second key holder.  If neither person can be reached, APD can then be contacted.

If a key holder or responsible party is contacted, they will be advised of the alarm activation; it is then their responsibility to make a reasonable decision to determine if the alarm is valid.

ECV is not required, however, for fire, panic, robbery-in-progress, or calls that are actual crimes in progress.  Having ECV can reduce false alarm calls by as much as 40%.

The majority of false alarms are triggered by user error. The Asheville Police Department urges homeowners and businesses to prevent false alarms by reviewing passwords with family members and employees. It further urges alarm users to review how to turn your system on and off and to make sure the alarm system is in good working order.

Effective May 17, you may go to our website for more information on the Alarm Ordinance and to register your alarm – https://www.ashevillenc.gov/service/get-a-security-alarm-permit/.

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