PRINCE GEORGE, VA (WWBT) - Police in Prince George are asking residents and businesses to register their alarms or expect to pay a fee. The county must now have contact information on file for all alarm owners, whether it's a security, fire or medical alarm.
Whenever first responders get the signal that someone may be in danger, they rush to the scene. The only problem is, in many cases, county officials say when they show up, there's no emergency at all. "When we're responding to false alarms, our resources are not available for the real emergencies that are taking place in the county," Captain Eric Young says.
Prince George has passed a new ordinance requiring all alarm holders to register their devices with the county, so first responders will know how to reach residents and businesses if it appears as a false alarm. "We're going to reach out to you and say, 'Hey, we're at your home for this type of alarm, and we don't find any issue at your home. Can you come out and check to make sure you don't see any concern as well?''" Young adds.
Residents and businesses will have to have someone designated to show up to your home or business and silence the alarm within 30 minutes of first responders sending out the notification. If not, expect a $100 fine.
Police say the first and second time a false alarm is signaled, consider it a warning. However, if it happens for a third or fourth time, neighbors can be fined $50. If it happens a fifth time, be prepared to pay $100.
Richmond, Henrico, Chesterfield and Colonial Heights all have similar regulations that come with fines for violators. Hopewell and Petersburg do not.
Until now, neither did Prince George but now the county is requiring neighbors and businesses to register alarms and provide updated contact information once a year. "Cell phone numbers change, [and] where people work change," Young said. When there's real danger, first responders want to be there. "We definitely see the value in an alarm system. It helps us do our job," he adds.
The new county ordinance goes into effect on the first day of 2016.
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