You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.

X

Welcome to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

False alarms costly for Clark sheriff

Despite problems, deputies still favor alarm systems to help fight crime.


Law enforcement agencies respond to thousands of security system alarm calls at homes and businesses each year, but in most cases, the calls turn out to be false alarms that tie up valuable resources and cost taxpayers.

In 2012, the Clark County Sheriff’s Office responded to 2,955 alarm calls, 2,482 of which were from security systems. While the agency doesn’t track false alarms specifically, Sheriff Gene Kelly said the bulk of those were false alarms. Deputies on the street said they’ll get multiple false alarm calls each day.

“We usually respond on (the day shift) typically two or three alarms. Weekends are worse,” said Deputy Brian Melchi. “I would say 95 percent of those are false alarms.”

Ohio Revised Code allows law enforcement agencies to recoup some of the cost when responding to false alarms, but the amount is capped at $150 for the fifth false alarm. It also requires the department to track its call-outs. The cost of paperwork coupled with the actual response of the deputies — two per alarm call — doesn’t make that charge cost-effective, Kelly said.

“Which one do we not go on? Which one do we not send as many units as possible?” Kelly asked. “What we choose to do is go out, talk to the business, the homeowner, see if there are any recommendations we can make with their alarm company to improve the service and not have false alarms.”

During a normal shift, only four deputies will be on patrol, not including any township-assigned deputies. With two units responding to each alarm call, Melchi said it’s happened where every unit has been tied up by false alarms.

“A typical false alarm is tying up four or five people,” Melchi said. “You have the alarm company end of it, dispatchers and then our actual law enforcement officers.”

There’s no way to determine which alarm will end up being false and which will be legitimate. Anything can set the system off: storms, a dirty sensor, motion activating the alarm that turns out to be a pet or even a balloon, Kelly said.

“It does get frustrating when you hear the same alarm four to five times a week. Still doesn’t change our response to it, though,” Melchi said. “In the back of your mind you say, is this another false alarm? I can have 10 false alarms at the same place but that 11th alarm could be a good one.”

The most common issue is human error. Deputies respond weekly to the Greenon Athletic Center by the football field due to an alarm drop. In each case it has been a false alarm, usually do to someone setting it off by accident or not having the right code to turn the system off, according to the sheriff’s office.

It’s a problem the school district is trying to fix, said Principal Rick Newsock.

“There’s all kinds of reasons why the alarm can go off,” he said. “(We know) it puts a strain on our law enforcement because they’re running back and forth all the time checking on the alarms, making sure our buildings are secure.”

There’s no clear-cut way to solve false alarms. Law enforcement agencies agree they do help catch criminals and can deter crime.

Going over the system with the alarm company, making sure it is working properly and you know how to disarm it is helpful. Checking sensors for obstructions and keeping the system clean and in good working order can also limit false alarms. If necessary, have law enforcement work with you and the alarm company to see if there is a more effective way, Kelly said.

“We want alarms, and alarms do work, and they’re a vital part of law enforcement today,” Kelly said.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Community News

Neighbor, officers save 2 women from house fire
Neighbor, officers save 2 women from house fire

A Massachusetts woman whose home burned down early Saturday is thanking a neighbor and two police officers for saving her life. Karmen Forrester woke up to the screaming of her roommate and best friend, Shelby Hansen, who had escaped before realizing Forrester was home. With the flames rapidly spreading, Forrester’s only way out was a second-floor...
Will Ferrell reprises role as George W. Bush for 'Not The White House Correspondents Dinner'
Will Ferrell reprises role as George W. Bush for 'Not The White House Correspondents Dinner'

Comedian Will Ferrell reprised his role as former President George W. Bush on Saturday night to thunderous applause at “Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner,” hosted by Samantha Bee. The event was taped as journalists gathered at the Washington Hilton for the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Meanwhile, President Donald...
Delta investigates pilot's actions during altercation between passengers
Delta investigates pilot's actions during altercation between passengers

Delta Air Lines said it has returned a pilot to duty after investigating his actions during an altercation between passengers on a jetway after a flight. Video of the altercation was posted on entertainment website TMZ.com, showing a pilot trying to break up a fight between two passengers on a jetway. The pilot can be seen grabbing a passenger...
Dale Earnhardt Jr. pays tribute to dad on what would have been his 66th birthday
Dale Earnhardt Jr. pays tribute to dad on what would have been his 66th birthday

Dale Earnhardt Jr. took a moment Saturday morning to pay tribute to his father on what would have been Dale Earnhardt’s 66th birthday. “Happy Birthday dude,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. wrote on his Instagram page alongside a photo of himself as a child with his dad. It had already been quite a week for the younger Earnhardt. He announced...
Climate protesters march to edge of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago
Climate protesters march to edge of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago

An estimated 500 people marched to the edge of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club Saturday, hoping to turn up the heat on a president they say has turned his back on the threat of climate change. “The time for denial is over,” said Patrick Ferguson, an event organizer. “The time for climate solutions is now.” Protesters...
More Stories