Local News

Clayton Officials Want People To Pay For False Alarms

Posted February 4, 2001

— Repeated false alarms can hurt public safety. Police and fire crews in Clayton are making a big city move by forcing people to pay for wasted calls.

Over the past year, fire calls have more than doubled for Clayton firefighters. Many times, they rushed to the scene for no good reason.

"When you look at the high traffic volume that we're encountering right now in the Clayton area, you're putting a lot of people in jeopardy safety-wise," says fire chief Lee Barbee.

Clayton's police and fire chiefs came up with a new ordinance when they realized close to 80 percent of alarm calls were bogus.

"We were tying up an hour, sometimes an hour-and-a-half or maybe two hours of emergency personnel's time," says police chief Gary Ragland.

Under the new ordinance, business and homeowners with more than one false alarm in a 30-day period face a $50 fine for each offense. After six false alarms in a year, authorities can revoke the alarm permit and even refuse to send emergency crews.

"Responding to an alarm is a service provided by the town. It's not a responsibility," Ragland says.

On Monday, every available Clayton police officer responded to a call at a fast food restaurant with their guns drawn. It turned out the robbery alarm had been set off by construction workers.

Under Clayton's new ordinance, everyone is expected to register their security systems with police. Enforcement begins March 1.


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