If you’re a business owner or a homeowner, and you have an alarm system, you’ll be getting a letter from the city of Mobile asking you to register your system with the city. It’ll cost you $25 a year for your home, and $50 a year if you have a business. It’s an ordinance that’s been around for 20 years, but Police Chief James Barber is putting his foot down and demanding it be enforced. Ham Barnett and his family have a security system in their home.
“I think the $25 charge is really not a big charge for one year, but I also believe in small government,” says Barnett.
Police Chief James Barber wasn’t able to meet for an interview today but told me in an email that the registration part is so they can contact the security system to find out if false alarms are the company’s fault or the owner’s fault.
And if your alarm isn’t registered with the city and it goes off by accident, and there is no burglary, then the city could actually fine you $100 and the police could refuse to respond to any other alarms.
Barber says false alarms are becoming increasingly problematic.
“Two or three times we’ve had false alarms cause my mother-in-law coming in and forgetting the alarm code or something like that! But what’s five minutes? Because we’ve had false alarms in my house before, the police come by, they say the alarm went off, you talk to them for five minutes tops and they’re on their way,” says Barnett.
But it’s more than just the five minutes officers spend at your house. Officials with Mobile Police tell me for every false alarm they get, it takes two officers out of rotation for 45 minutes to a full hour–every time.
Barber says they respond to 30,000 false alarms a year. And that costs police $1.5 million, not to mention, takes away officers from responding to more serious calls.
This all comes from Chief Barber reviewing his department’s performance. He wants to run a tight ship–and is looking for ways to save time and money and do their jobs more effectively. And if you’re wondering where all the money goes that comes from the penalty fines–they all go to the Mobile Police Department’s budget.