Police Chief Terry Sult said April 7 the Sandy Springs Police Department can solve its false alarm problem with a policy giving citizens a certain number of false alarms before the department quits responding.

City Council members agreed four false alarms in a 12-month period would be a reasonable allowance. Citizens could get two more by having a technician service their alarm system.

“After that point, we would no longer respond to alarms,” Sult said. “It’s their responsibility to maintain those alarms and operate them properly.”

The policy would not apply to fire alarms, operator-activated panic alarms, or video- or audio-verified alarms. In March, police answered 890 alarm calls, only three of which were valid. In 2008, they answered 11,572 alarm calls, 99.99 percent of which were false, Sult said.

The chief said what irritates him about alarm systems is they are “essentially a contract between the homeowner and an alarm company for police services. We don’t get any say.”

He added: “We rarely catch someone on an alarm because, remember, this goes out to Arizona or somewhere and then goes to the 911 center before the officer gets the call. They’re gone before we ever get there.”

Issuing fines for false alarms is not a viable option, Sult said. “You really do need to register the alarm system in order to know who’s in charge, and then there’s the issue of collection. We would either have to contract for a collection agency or put a full-time person on it.”

Mayor Eva Galambos said: “It seems to me this particular solution is something that could serve us in the interim.”

— Gerhard Schneibel