False alarms to come at a cost to Memphis homeowners

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MIAMI, FL – FEBRUARY 16: The keypad to an ADT home security alarm system is seen in a home on February 16, 2016 in Miami, Florida. It was announced today that home security firm ADT was purchased by private equity firm Apollo Global Management for $6.9 billion. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — If you have a home alarm, you should make sure it’s working correctly, or else you could be facing a hefty fine.

When home alarms go off, police officers are going to most likely respond, but in recent years that’s actually become a problem.

“We want to make sure every firefighter and police officer is available when our citizens need them," City of Memphis Chief Operating Officer Doug McGowen said.

But recently, false alarms have gotten in the way.

McGowen said in 2017, police responded to 60,000 home alarm cases that turned out to be nothing.

“We are inundated with alarms," MPD Deputy Director Mike Ryall said at the time. "The majority of them are false. It creates a manpower resource issue as well as a financial issue.”

In fact, city officials said false alarms cost them around $50 million per year.

“That’s the equivalent of 54 police officers," McGowen said. "Were trying to recruit officers. So everyone I have chasing false alarms is someone I can’t have in a neighborhood."

As a result, there are new fees for false house alarms starting next month.

The city will give everyone one free pass, but if it happens a second or third time, expect to pay up.

Officials said it costs around $90 in time and resources to dispatch an officer to a false alarm. You’ll also get a citation for $50 and then have to pay court costs.

“We're trying to make sure when you need us, we are there," McGowen said. "That’s what this is all about”

He said the number of false alarms have gone down since 2017. He hopes the new fees continue that trend.

There are some other new home alarm rules. Homeowners with alarms will have to register the alarms themselves with the city rather than relying on the alarm company to do it. You can do that here.

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