ARTICLE II False Alarms to Police Department Editor's Note: See Ch. 161, Fire Prevention, for provisions dealing with false fire alarms. [Adopted 6-3-1996]
§ 98-5. Purpose.
The purpose of this article is to provide standards and regulation of alarm devices and alarm users within the City of Middletown and to reduce the incidence of false alarms responded to by the Police Department of the City of Middletown and to encourage the use of reliable alarm systems.
§ 98-6. Applicability.
The provisions of this article shall apply to any person who uses, operates or owns any alarm device that summons Police Department personnel employed by the City of Middletown.
§ 98-7. Definitions.
For purposes of this article the following definitions shall apply:
ALARM DEVICE — Any device which, when activated, transmits any signal to a monitoring facility, or produces an audible tone and/or visual signal, which results in the notification of police personnel and to which police personnel are expected to respond.
ALARM USER — Any natural person, business, corporation, union, association, firm, partnership, committee, club or other organization or group of persons on whose property (owned, rented or leased) an alarm device is owned, operated, used or maintained.
CENTRAL ALARM STATION — Any facility operated by a private firm that owns or leases a system of alarm devices, which facility is manned by operators who receive, record, or validate alarm signals and relay information about such validated signals to the police and/or fire stations.
DIAL ALARM — A telephone device or telephone attachment that automatically or electronically selects a telephone line connected to the police station and produces a signal or reproduces a prerecorded message to report a criminal act or other emergency requiring police response.
DIRECT ALARM — Any alarm device which transmits a signal over leased telephone lines to a private central alarm station.
FALSE ALARM — Any alarm signal resulting from activation of an alarm device to which the police respond which is not the result of a crime or other emergency.
ERROR or MISTAKE — Any action by any alarm user owning, leasing, operating or controlling an alarm device installed in any dwelling building or place in the City of Middletown, or any action by any agent or employee of, or anyone in privity with, said person, which results in the unintentional activation of said alarm device when no police emergency exists.
MALFUNCTION — Any unintentional activation of any alarm device caused by a flaw in design or installation of or the improper maintenance of the device. This shall not include any activation caused by violent conditions of nature or other extraordinary circumstances not reasonably subject to the control of the alarm device user.
KEYHOLDER — The person delegated by the alarm user to respond to an alarm activation. The keyholder may be the alarm user or any agent thereof.
LOCAL ALARM DEVICE — Any alarm device not connected to the central alarm station which, when activated, causes an audible and/or visual signaling device to be activated on the exterior of the premises within which the device is installed.
MANUAL ALARM DEVICE — Any alarm device in which activation of the alarm signal is initiated by the direct action of the alarm user.
PERSON — An individual, a business, a corporation, union, association, firm, partnership, committee, club or other organization or group of individuals.
§ 98-8. Responsibility of alarm user.
The alarm user, permittee or person depending upon any alarm device to notify the police agrees to be responsible for the alarm's operation and maintenance and to hold and save harmless the City of Middletown, its agents or employees from any liability whatsoever in connection with such alarm device or the operation of the same.
It shall be a violation of this article to allow any alarm device to be activated by error, mistake or malfunction in any dwelling, building or place when no emergency exists, which results in the response of the Police Department.
It shall be the responsibility of the alarm user, permittee or person depending upon any alarm device to provide the name or names of a keyholder or keyholders to the Middletown Police Department. It shall be the responsibility of the alarm user, permittee or person depending upon any alarm device to ensure a keyholder response to each alarm activation. The failure to provide a keyholder response shall result in a fine of $50.
§ 98-9. Penalties for offenses.
Upon receipt of a first or second false alarm signal in any one calendar year, the Chief of Police or his designee shall notify the responsible alarm user and issue a written warning that a third false alarm signal, in the same calendar year, will result in a fine of $50.
Upon receipt of a third false alarm and each additional false alarm occurrence in any one calendar year, the Chief or his designee will notify the alarm user by mail to pay the City of Middletown the sum of $50 for each false alarm occurrence. The Chief or his designee shall collect the fine(s) due for the false alarm occurrence(s) for inclusion in the City's general fund.
§ 98-10. Appeal procedure.
Any person who is aggrieved because of the imposition of a fine under this article may appeal before a hearing board, within 10 days of the imposition of such fine, by applying to the Chief of Police or his designee in writing. Any person requesting a hearing shall be given written notice of the date, time and place of the hearing. Such hearing shall not be held less than 15 days nor more than 30 days from the date of the mailing of the notice.
A person wishing to contest a notice of violation shall appear at the hearing and shall have the right to present evidence. A designated official of the department having jurisdiction, other than a member of the hearing board, may present evidence on behalf of the department. The hearing board shall conduct a hearing in order and form as it deems fair and appropriate. The rules regarding the admissibility of evidence shall not be strictly applied, but all testimony shall be given under oath or affirmation. The hearing board shall announce its decision at the end of the hearing.
The hearing board shall consist of at least two members of the Police Department and two members of the Chamber of Commerce in Middletown. Members shall serve a term of two years. Members shall be appointed by the chief executive officers of said organizations.
Hearings will be at the Middletown Police Department. The Police Department shall not waive any fine. All appeals shall be heard by the hearing board.
§ 98-11. Failure to pay fines.
If any person fails to pay within 30 days of the receipt of notice of any fine or charge imposed, it shall be the right of the City of Middletown to pursue civil proceedings. Interest shall accrue at the rate of 1.5% per month on all fines and charges outstanding for periods in excess of 30 days.