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False alarm fines likely coming to Pasco County

80 percent of calls are false alarms
Posted at 5:26 PM, Aug 02, 2016
During the past 12 months, the Pasco County Sheriff’s office said a home on Victoria Lane in Holiday has generated 187 alarm calls.
 
Two doors down from the home, Frank Pate had a pretty good view from his front porch swing of deputies arriving.
 
“Every other day almost. Very often,” he said.
 
Neighbors said most of those alarm calls came from a mother allegedly dealing with her drug-addicted daughter.
 
During the past year, the Sheriff’s Office says 80 percent of the alarm calls they’ve responded to are false alarms. That’s why Sheriff Chris Nocco has proposed an ordinance to start fining owners of homes or businesses who rack up the most false alarms.
 
Read Sheriff Nocco's proposal below
 
“Think of a deputy responding to that call. We are sending resources out there. The drive time there. Checking around property, then leaving. That’s something that could be going out there doing proactive law enforcement. Going after people causing real problems in the community,” said Nocco.
 
Others topping the list of constant alarm calls in Pasco include the Napa Auto Parts on U.S. 19
and River Ridge Golf Club. Twelve of the top 30 alarm calls came from schools or churches.
 
Under the proposal, the first two false alarms will just bring a warning. After that, owners can start getting fines from $50 up to $500. Schools will not be fined.
 
Pinellas County created a similar ordinance in 2009, and a significant decrease in false alarm calls followed.
 
Hillsborough County has a similar ordinance, too.
 
The Pasco County Commission is expected to vote on the ordinance next week.
 
Back on Victoria Lane, the alarm calls have stopped, because the family moved away.
 
“Since they moved out, things have calmed down. Yes, we are happy,” Pate said.
 
Sheriff Nocco's proposal letter to county commissioners:
 
Dear Chair Starkey:
 
Over the last year, the Pasco Sheriff’s Office responded to 17,150 alarm calls. Of those calls, approximately 80% were false alarms. The Pasco Sheriff’s Office is utilizing significant time and resources responding to the false alarm calls, taking away deputies who could be protecting our citizens in other ways.
 
Accordingly, I am proposing a false alarm ordinance for the Board of County Commissioners consideration. This ordinance would fine the businesses or residential owners who continue to have false alarms. A business or residential owner would be subject to a fine on the third false alarm for those who register their alarm, and a fine on the first false alarm for those who do not register. The registration would be at no cost to businesses or residential owners.
 
The average resident will be responsible for an alarm call once every 26 years. However, there are a few locations which generate the most false alarms. One location in particular has generated 187 alarms calls in the past year alone. These are the locations that will be impacted by this ordinance and the false alarm activity we are working to stop. 
 
Pinellas County enacted a similar ordinance in 2009 to excellent results. The Pinellas County false alarm ordinance has attributed to a more than 33% decrease in the amount of false alarms in the County and a 46% decrease in the city of St. Petersburg.
 
I believe this ordinance will benefit Pasco County by creating an incentive for the locations with the most false alarm calls to fix their alarms and take proper care of their system. With approximately 80% of alarm calls being for false alarms, tackling this issue will allow the Pasco Sheriff’s Office to better serve the citizens.  Thank you for your time and attention to this important matter.

Very truly yours,
 
 
Chris Nocco, Sheriff