Local News

False Alarms Cost Area Schools Big Bucks

Posted Updated
Carolyn White
RALEIGH — Police must respond to any call for help theyget, but thousands of those calls turn out to be false alarms. Those falsealarms not only cost taxpayers money, they also put those with realemergencies at risk.

WRAL-TV5's Bret Baier checkedrecords on false alarms and found some surprising figures. In one yearalone, over 23,000 false alarm calls were receivedby Raleigh police. Officers spent over 11,000 hours responding to thosecalls and being diverted by them from legitimate law enforcement.

Every time an officer drives out to a false alarm, it costs the citymoney. So, after racking up three false alarms, a business or residence ischarged $50 per false alarm. The biggest violator in Raleigh is the WakeCounty Public School System.

Last year, Wake County schools paid over $23,000 in fines, at that $50per call rate. That money comes out of school tax dollars, according to Raleigh police researcher Carolyn White, and is moneydesignated for educational supplies and equipment ... not paying fines.

The school system recognizes that a problem situation exists, but hasfew ideas regarding solutions. Gary Hauser, who directs security for WakeCounty Schools, says the school board has 110 facilities to monitor andprotect.

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Officials are concerned that the alarms, which were purchased toprotect students, are becoming far more costly than they thought. They saythe increasing number of after-school activities makes it difficult tomonitor the alarms at all times.

They plan to try a new type of alarm system at six schools in an effortto alleviate the problem.

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