Victoria proposing increase in penalties for false alarms

Melissa Crowe By Melissa Crowe

Dec. 15, 2013 at 6:15 a.m.
Updated Dec. 16, 2013 at 6:16 a.m.

The penalties for false burglar and fire alarms in Victoria could soon double in cost.

Previously, the Victoria Police Department imposed a $60 penalty for a resident or business owner's ninth false alarm.

However, if Victoria City Council approves the department's proposal, fees for false burglar alarms would increase to $100 on the fourth false alarm, while fees for false fire alarms would increase to $125 on the fourth false call.

If approved, the increase in fees would be effective Dec. 27.

City spokesman O.C. Garza said false calls continue to be a major issue within the city.

"It ties up police department time," he said. "It ties up the time a police officer could spend responding to real emergencies and situations in which police assistance is needed."

The proposed increase in fees is long overdue, Police Chief J.J. Craig said.

His department responds to more than 3,000 false alarm calls every year, Craig said.

"It is a drain on our on-duty resources," Craig said. "We spend a lot of time and effort responding to all calls.

"We are always looking at ways to be more efficient and more effective with our resources," Craig said.

The police chief said it is the responsibility of businesses and residents to make sure their alarm systems are operating correctly.

"A lot of these are on Monday mornings when a business reopens after a weekend," Craig said, noting a couple of businesses on North Navarro Street have a history of dozens of false alarm calls during the year.

"Obviously, we're going to respond. We're just asking businesses to work with us.

"Fix your systems. Fix your process so that we know when we respond, it's an actual emergency."

Other fees set to increase are inspection fees for the fire marshal's office, permit fees for the planning services department, library fines and increases to parks rentals.



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