Burglar Alarm Ordinance Debate

Each year, the Savannah Police Department responds to thousands of burglar alarms, and nine times out of ten, they're false alarms. But the city is trying to change all that. The city tried passing a burglar alarm ordinance today that consists of two parts.

The first is the alarm threshold. That means, once a house gets three or more false alarms, they get charged. The other is called verified response, and it requires the alarm company to verify there indeed has been a break-in before calling police. The second ordinance is what's causing controversy for some.

For three years, Marc Carson of Security Professionals has been installing burglar alarms in Savannah homes, and he knows that when an alarm goes off, often it's human error.

"I could see the police department having valid concerns about false alarms," he said.

That's why he's not opposed to a city ordinance designed to keep alarm systems from crying wolf. In fact he's for it.

"Some of these companies are not using best equipment, but most importantly, some alarm companies are not taking responsibility of informing homeowners of the best way to use the system," Carson said.

Part of the ordinance would require alarm companies to come out to a house and check a triggered alarm before sending police, which is something not all council members approve of. Pete Liakakis is one of them. He described the extra time it would cost: "A security officer goes out, he checks it, and he sees a broken window or a broken door, then he calls his central station, then they call police."

That's time someone may need who really is in trouble. Still , others support the ordinance full circle.

"As long as our officers are tied up on calls, that are nonproductive. We need to change that to reduce crime more," noted Savannah PD Chief Dan Flynn.

Council had the option of voting on this today, but since there were some questions on it, they put the issue aside and will be voting on it early December.

Reported by: Elizabeth Garcia, egarcia@wtoc.com