The new ordinance also removed the requirement that Kitsap County residents permit their alarms as well as the associated costs.
From 2017 to 2019, the Kitsap County Sheriff's Office deputies responded to 10,221 calls for alarm activations. Conservatively, 98.9% of these calls for service were for false alarms, costing the County approximately $220,000 in deputy time and resources. When a deputy responds to a false alarm, that deputy is unavailable to respond to a legitimate emergency elsewhere.
The purpose of the Alarm Ordinance is to assist the Sheriff's Office in effectively responding to law enforcement needs and encourage manufacturers and alarm system users to construct better and maintain alarm systems. This Ordinance does not (and is not intended to) recover all costs associated with responding to false alarms but is intended to encourage responsible use of alarms in order to reduce the number of false activations.
Verified means visual or audio confirmation of an emergency at an alarm site, which requires a public safety response, by one of the following:
confirmation at the alarm site by the alarm user or self-monitored real-time visual or audio equipment; or
multi-zone activation at the alarm site; or
confirmation by a private responder or other secondary confirmation at the alarm site; or
real-time audio and/or visual evidence at the alarm site provided by an alarm company, provided that such audio or visual evidence is made available to Kitsap 911 no more than 24 hours after the dispatch of public safety.
There are varieties of alarm monitoring systems that range from low to high cost which will enable an alarm user to be in compliance, including a self-monitoring system where you maintain your traditional alarm system and pair it with a self-installed/self-monitored video system. The Kitsap County Sheriff's Office is committed to a continued partnership with the citizens of Kitsap County and alarm companies in a shared goal of protecting the families and property of Kitsap County residents. For more information, see the ordinance.
A person receiving a notice of a false alarm fine may appeal the assessment in writing to the Kitsap County Alarm Appeals Administrator.
The Kitsap County Alarm Ordinance defines a False Alarm as: “any activation of an alarm system to summon public safety personnel or a request to dispatch public safety personnel due to an alarm activation, when a situation requiring a public safety response does not exist, meaning (1) no evidence of an emergency; or (2) the cancellation of an unverified alarm dispatch request after public safety personnel responds at the alarm site. A false alarm includes an alarm signal caused by conditions of nature, which are normal for that area. A false alarm does not include an alarm signal caused by extraordinarily violent conditions of nature such as tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes or as provided in this chapter.”
An appeal of an administrative assessment of a false alarm fine or other administrative violation of the Alarm Ordinance may be appealed to the Kitsap County Sheriff's Office Alarm Appeals Administrator. The appeal must be made by utilizing the approved Kitsap County Sheriff's Office False Alarm Fee Appeal Form and specifically identifying what is being appealed and the facts and documentation, if any, supporting the reasons for the appeal. The appeal must be made within 30-days calendar days from the notice of an administrative penalty. The appeal may be submitted to mail or email to the following address:
Alarm Appeals Administrator 614 Division Street, MS-37 Port Orchard, WA 98366 Email: email@example.com
The Alarm Appeals Administrator will review the request to appeal any supporting documents, using a preponderance of the evidence standard, and issue a written decision within 14-days from the alarm appeals administrator's receipt of the appeal request. The Alarm Appeals Administrator has the discretion, but not the obligation, to reduce or waive any penalty or reverse any other enforcement decision when deemed appropriate. The Alarm Appeals Administrator's decision is considered final. Payment will be immediately due upon the issuance of the written decision of the alarm appeals administrator.
Appeals are not generally granted as a result of the following:
This list is only a guide to assist you in deciding whether to appeal a false alarm. This list is not intended to cover every situation where an appeal may be denied.
Alarm Appeals Form
A false alarm is defined by the county code as "any activation of an alarm system to summon public safety personnel or a request to dispatch public safety personnel due to an alarm activation, when a situation requiring a public safety response does not exist, meaning (1) no evidence of an emergency; or (2) the cancellation of an unverified alarm dispatch request after public safety personnel responds at the alarm site. A false alarm includes an alarm signal caused by conditions of nature, which are normal for that area. A false alarm does not include an alarm signal caused by extraordinarily violent conditions of nature such as tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes or as provided in this chapter."
When an alarm is activated it must be verified before Law Enforcement will respond. Verified is defined by county code 6.10.60 as "real-time visual or real-time audio confirmation from an alarm site that enables the alarm monitoring company to verify the occurrence of an emergency at the alarm site requiring a public safety response. Such verification shall occur before contacting Kitsap 911 to request a public safety response and may be provided by: 1. Confirmation by the alarm user at the alarm site or via real-time self-monitored visual or audio equipment or a multi-zone activation; or 2. Confirmation by a private guard responder or third party at the alarm site or other secondary confirmation of an emergency at the alarm site; or 3. Real-time audio and/or visual evidence provided by an alarm monitoring company of an emergency at the alarm site, provided that such audio or visual evidence is made available to Kitsap 911 prior to dispatch of public safety personnel."
False alarms cost the Sheriff's Office and Kitsap 911 valuable time and resources. There are many ways you can help prevent false alarms. Keep motion sensors free of dust and bugs and ensure anyone who has permission to be in the house has the alarm code and knows how to use the alarm pad.
Your alarm company is fined, but they may be able to pass that cost to you if your contract allows that.
County code 6.10.80.D "The administrative penalty for the first violation of any provision of this chapter is $150; the second or any subsequent violations during any 12-month continuous period may be assessed a penalty of not less than $150 and not more than $500." Payments shall be made payable to the Kitsap County Sheriff's Office (crime prevention fund). All penalties shall be due within 30 days or a late fee of $25, reasonable administrative costs, and collections fees may be assessed on any past due account.
No. You are no longer required to obtain an alarm permit or pay associated fees for your alarm system. Alarm companies shall maintain current contact information for all alarm users in the County, including the names, emergency telephone numbers, and addresses of all alarm users; the names and emergency telephone numbers for at least two alternate responders with the ability to access the alarm system for each monitored alarm system that may be contacted in the event of an emergency to deactivate the alarm system. KCC 6.10.050(B).
When a false alarm is registered, the alarm company or the individual monitoring the alarm who reported a false alarm will receive a notification and a fine for each false alarm. These fees can be passed on from the alarm company to its customers. Please understand your contractual agreements, including policies and practices with respect to the billing of any additional fees and fines.
Assessments for false alarms can be appealed by filing a written notice of appeal within 30 calendar days after the date of notification of the assessment. You can email that appeal to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail it to: (KCSO Records, 614 Division St MS 37, Port Orchard, WA 98366). Be sure to include the factual basis for the appeal and any supporting documents.
Assessments for false alarms can be appealed by filing a written notice of appeal within ten days after the date of notification of the assessment. You can email that appeal to email@example.com or mail it to: (KCSO Records, 614 Division St MS 37, Port Orchard, WA 98366). Be sure to include the alarm company's name and permit number, a contact person and email address; alarm location and permit number, date of the false alarm, reasons for the appeal, and any supporting evidence.
The agreement for monitored alarm services is between the alarm company and its customers. The private company owns the relationship with its customer, including the issuance of equipment, training, and ensuring that it is a successful system. It is not up to the county or its public safety personnel to tell alarm companies how to do their business; that is a private industry call. However, the previous system in which the alarm customer was held directly responsible for all false alarms did not work. More than 98 percent of alarm calls are false alarms, with that statistic consistent within the county – as well as nationally – for decades. Responding to false alarms is a financial cost to the public and a threat to public safety by the unnecessary diversion of public safety resources.
The County's main intent with the change is to hold alarm companies more accountable for false alarms and reduce the number of unnecessary law enforcement responses.
With more than 98 percent of all monitored alarm calls false alarms, there is no correlation between alarms and actual burglaries. The intent of the ordinance is to reduce the incidence of false alarms freeing up law enforcement to spend more time on patrolling areas and other crime prevention activities – rather than responding to false alarms. Also, burglar alarms are designed to protect property, not people. Manually activated alarms such as panic/duress alarms are intended to protect people and are given high priority.
The alarms public safety personnel respond to are almost always false. Owning and operating an alarm is a private contract with a private, for-profit firm for a private service. County personnel are not paid to be security guards for alarm companies or alarm owners and this, unfortunately, is what has occurred over the past several decades.
No. Currently, calls from alarm companies are placed as a low-priority response due to the consistent false alarm rate (98.8% false). Under the new verified alarm process, calls will be prioritized higher as there will be evidence of a possible crime.
There is NO verification requirement for a fire, medical, or panic alarm.
No. Studies show that the mere presence of an alarm system (usually indicated by signage or stickers) is an effective deterrent. Also, the criminal does not know if someone has heard the alarm and called the police, or if a private guard responder service is utilized. Typically, burglars stay inside the home/business for 2-5 minutes and then flee.
Major causes of false alarms:
Before you activate your alarm system:
Know what to do if you set your alarm off accidentally:
At home:Avoid objects that trigger your alarm:
At your business:Watch for these pitfalls that may activate your alarm:
With people:Enhance your alarm system's potential:
Contact your alarm company:
The penalty fee will be assessed to the company or individual monitoring the alarm, so a company acting on your behalf as the alarm owner or you.
We will begin assessing fines on June 1st, 2021.
What are the penalties?
The administrative penalties for a violation of any provision of this chapter are as follows:
· First violation - $150
· Second or any subsequent violations during any 12-month continuous period - not less than $150 and not more than $500. All penalties shall be made payable to the Kitsap County Sheriff's Office and deposited in the Kitsap County Sheriff's Office crime prevention fund.