Last year police responded to 23,289 false security alarms at homes and businesses


CLEVELAND -- Cleveland police are being forced to misuse thousands of hours of their precious time every year because they're busy responding to false alarms that are costing taxpayers about $750,000 a year.

"When 10 percent of their time is spent responding to false alarms, people with legitimate safety concerns are not being addressed," said Martin Flask, executive assistant to Mayor Frank Jackson.

Last year police responded to 23,289 false security alarms at homes and businesses. That's nearly 98 percent of all alarms that turned out to be a dud.

Police can't afford to misuse their time responding to false alarms. Last year alone, they investigated 88 murders, 538 rapes, 2,313 felony assaults, 864 burglaries, and 17,422 thefts -- among many other crimes.

The city believes regulations need to be imposed on an industry that has no checks and balances.

"There's a lack of regulations and a lack of accountability. Alarm companies are not required to register or obtain permits," Flask said.

Incredibly, there are 340 companies either monitoring security alarms or installing them in the city.

Allan Gillmore lll of Gillmore Security is among a group of individuals working with the city to develop some kind of rules. Gillmore says 80 percent of false alarms are due to human error.

"At some point, the fine should go up, and at 10 alarms perhaps, they should stop responding," said Gillmore.

Businesses are fined $130 for a third false alarm and each one after that in a given year. The city is considering similar fines for homeowners. It is also looking at publishing a list of repeat offenders.

The top commercial violator in the city is JBI Scrap on East 55th Street. Employees blamed the tripped alarms on animals and the wind. The company had 103 false alarms last year.

Cleveland police are spending about 8,300 hours a year responding to false alarms. That's nearly as many hours as there are in a year.

"There are no consequences, and things have to change," said Flask.

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