Champaign to raise fees on false security alarms

By Angelica Lavito

Champaign will update its false security alarm policy for the first time since 1988.

The Champaign City Council directed staff to move forward with amending the ordinance and raising fines for false security alarms, registration fees and instating annual renewal fees with a 9-0 vote.

“It may be that (the fee) is incredibly expensive for some businesses, and I recognize that, but it’s also incredibly expensive for the taxpayers and for CPD,” said Deb Feinen, city council member-at large.

Currently, there is no fee for up to six false alarms, a $50 fee per false alarm for seven to nine occurrences, and a $75 fee for each additional false alarm.

The amended ordinance will not charge for up three false alarms and will charge $100 for four to nine occurrences, and $150 after ten instances. 

“Really, it’s actually just doubling what we did 25 years ago,” said Champaign Police Lt. Tod Meyers. “We didn’t want to go overboard with it, but we thought it was a fair and reasonable amount.”

Of 2,555 security alarm calls in 2012, criminal activity caused 19 of the calls, according to the study session report. Two police officers are required to respond to alarms, resulting in 588 hours of police hours in 2012, totaling $67,841, according to the study session report. 

The amended ordinance will increase the security alarm one-time registration fee from $10 to $50 and will require owners to pay a $20 annual renewal fee. 

The changes are expected to generate $142,410, according to the study session report. Administration fees are expected to rise, however.

Security alarm companies will also be recommended to use Enhanced Call Verification, which requires companies to contact two phone numbers before notifying law enforcement.

“I’m comfortable with that, in that 99.9 percent they’re false alarms,” said Deputy Chief Joe Gallo.

City staff and the Champaign Police Department will work on finalizing the ordinance, and the Champaign City Council will vote on the ordinance at a future meeting.

Angelica can be reached at [email protected]