Titusville police chief looks to stem false alarms

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Brevard County, Fla. - Titusville police say they are wasting time and resources responding to false alarms at homes and businesses. So the police chief wants to the City Council to make people register their alarm systems.

WFTV's Kevin Oliver found out the number of false alarms is pretty high.

The police chief said the vast majority of false alarm calls come when a business is opened or closed or when a homeowner leaves or comes home from work. And if they can cut down those false alarms, it frees up police to fight real crime.

Titusville police dispatchers get on average five calls a day for false alarms. The calls send police and sometimes firefighters racing to homes only to find out there was no emergency.

Over the past nine months, the city had 1,500 automatic calls from alarms set off in businesses and homes, and only three were valid.

"What we are doing is not working. It's just not smart business," said Police Chief John Lau.

The city has had a policy for years where home or business owners are fined $50 after the third false alarm in a nine-month period.

Cities across the state, including Orlando, have looked at revising their policies to try to cut down on false alarms.

Titusville's new police chief has proposed modeling a new policy after Key West, where home and business owners are required to register their alarm system and provide emergency contact information.

"If you go by statistics, we believe we can reduce it by 50 percent. And that's just going to save man hours," said Lau.

The chief said officers will still be dispatched as a priority, but they can be turned around faster if it's determined there was a mistake.

Police are also considering outsourcing the collection of fines to a nonprofit or looking at other ways to recoup the costs so police manpower isn't tied up.