Sandy Springs will now collect additional fines from alarm companies if they fail to verify the calls within 24 hours.

The city has made many amendments to its false alarm ordinance, which first went into effect in 2013, with the newest one coming out of a Nov. 5 city council meeting. The ordinance amendment went into effect immediately following council approval.

The amendment says if an alarm company does not file evidence through audio or video or in-person of an attempted or actual crime, fire or other emergency at the site within 24 hours of the request, the company will be fined.

The fines are $250 per occurrence for the first offense, $500 per occurrence for the second offense and $1000 per occurrence for three or more offenses.

The amendment to the ordinance also deleted what police consider obsolete wording for the definition of “verify.”

In June 2018, the city approved an amendment to require “true verification,” which demands alarm companies send confirmation of an actual or attempted crime or other emergency through audio, video or in-person in response to an activated alarm. The amendment says the verification must be provided to the city no more than 24 hours after the request for the dispatch of emergency services.

The amendment went into effect in June 2019 to give alarm companies time to adjust to the change.

The Chattahoochee River 911 Authority, or ChatComm serves the city as its 911 emergency call center.

In 2017, ChatComm received an average of 815 false alarm calls per month, according to police.

Since the amendment took effect in June 2019, the call center is now averaging 160 calls per month. While 99 percent are still false alarms, the overall volume of calls has significantly dropped, police said.

When the June 2018 amendment passed, some alarm companies said it would force them to raise costs to its customers or to stop doing business in the city altogether.

According to Police Capt. Dan Nable, while a few companies did pull out of the city after the June 2018 amendment passed, some new companies have entered into agreements with the city because they have the updated technology to handle the city’s standards.

In 2013, the city implemented its first false alarm ordinance with the intent of reducing the number of false alarms. The city has since implemented a series of amendments to the ordinance, putting alarm companies, rather than alarm-users, on the hook for registration and fines for false alarms in July 2017.

Hannah Greco

Hannah Greco is writer and media communications specialist based in Atlanta.