Local News

False Alarms Cost Area Schools Big Bucks

Posted February 24, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— Police must respond to any call for help they get, but thousands of those calls turn out to be false alarms. Those false alarms not only cost taxpayers money, they also put those with real emergencies at risk.

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

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

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

The school system recognizes that a problem situation exists, but has few ideas regarding solutions. Gary Hauser, who directs security for Wake County Schools, says the school board has 110 facilities to monitor and protect.

Listen to auorReal Audiofile

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

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