Boulder, CO 80308

Alarm Ordinance

ORDINANCE NO. 8123 

AN ORDINANCE REPEALING CHAPTER 4-16 B.R.C. 1981, "POLICE ALARM SYSTEMS” AND REPLACING IT WITH A NEW CHAPTER 4-16 B.R.C. 1981 "POLICE ALARM SYSTEMS” TO REQUIRE ALARM VERIFICATION BEFORE INITIATING POLICE RESPONSE AND SETTING FORTH RELATED DETAILS. 

BE IT ORDAINED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF BOULDER, COLORADO: 

Section 1. Chapter 4-16, B.R.C. 1981, is repealed and replaced by a new Chapter 4-16, to 10 Tread: Police Alarm Systems. 

4-16-1. - Legislative Intent. The purpose of this chapter is to reduce the frequency of false alarms, their associated costs to the city, and to establish reasonable expectations of alarm users and alarm businesses. 

4-16-2. - Definitions. The following terms used in this chapter have the following meanings unless the context clearly indicates otherwise: 

“Alarm Administrator” means a person and/or entity designated by the city manager to administer, control and review false alarm reduction efforts and administer the provisions of this ordinance. 

“Alarm Company” means a person engaged in selling, leasing, installing, servicing or monitoring alarm systems. 

“Alarm Location” means the property which is monitored by an alarm system. 

“Alarm Permit” means a permit issued by the city, allowing the operation of an alarm system within the city. 

“Alarm Signal” means any activation generated by an alarm system, to which the police are requested to respond. 

“Alarm System” means any single device or assembly of equipment designed to signal the occurrence of an illegal or unauthorized entry or other illegal activity requiring immediate attention and to which the police are requested to respond, but does not include a motor vehicle or boat alarms, fire alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, domestic violence alarms, or alarms designed to elicit a medical response. 

“Alarm User” means any person any other entity owning, leasing or operating an alarm system, or on whose property an alarm system is maintained for the protection of such property. 

“Cancel, Cancelled or Cancellation” means the process where police response is terminated to an alarm site before police personnel arrive at the alarm location. 

“Conversion” means the transaction or process by which one alarm company begins the servicing or monitoring of a previously unmonitored alarm system or an alarm system that was previously serviced or monitored by another alarm company. 

“Dual-Activation Device” means a device which requires that two buttons be depressed together to activate an alarm signal for a robbery in progress. 

“False Alarm” means the activation of an alarm system when, upon inspection by the city, evidence indicates that no unauthorized entry, robbery, or other such crime was committed or attempted in or at the alarm location which would have activated a properly functioning alarm system. Notwithstanding the foregoing, a false alarm shall neither include an alarm activated by unusually violent conditions of nature nor an alarm which is cancelled before police personnel respond to the alarm location. Multiple alarms caused by a single technical malfunction in single alarm system for a period up to 12 hours shall constitute only one false alarm. Each 12-hour period shall constitute a new violation. 

“Panic Alarm” means an audible alarm signal generated by the manual activation of a device intended to signal a life-threatening or emergency situation, requiring an officer's response. 

“Permit Year” means a 12-month period beginning on the day and month on which an alarm permit is issued. 

“Responsible Party” means a person accountable for appearing at the alarm location upon request, who has access to the alarm location and the code to the alarm system. 

“Robbery Alarm” means a silent alarm signal generated by the manual activation of a device intended to signal a robbery in progress. 

“Runaway Alarm” means an alarm system that produces repeated alarm signals that do not appear to be caused by separate human action. 

“Verify” means an attempt by the alarm company to contact the alarm location or alarm user by telephone or other electronic means, whether or not actual contact with a person is made, to attempt to determine whether an alarm signal is valid before requesting police dispatch. 

4-16-3. - Alarm Permit Required. 

(a) No alarm user shall use an alarm system, whether the system is monitored or not, without first obtaining a permit for such alarm system from the city manager. Each alarm permit shall be assigned a unique permit number and shall be specific to the alarm location. No alarm user shall use the alarm system in a manner that violates an approved alarm permit. 

(b) Upon transfer of ownership of the property at which an alarm system is maintained, the new owner shall either file an application for an alarm permit within thirty (30) days of obtaining possession of the property or cease operating the alarm system. 

(c) Any alarm system which was installed before the effective date of this ordinance must be registered by the alarm user within ninety (90) days after that date.  

4-16-4. - Duties of the Alarm User. 

No alarm user shall fail to: 

(a) Maintain the alarm system and the premises protected by the alarm in a manner that will not generate false alarms; 

(b) Provide a responsible party to respond to the alarm location within 30 minutes when notified by the city; 

(c) Use reasonable care to ensure that an alarm is only activated for the occurrence of an event needing police response; 

(d) Inform the alarm administrator of changes in contact information for responsible parties or changes in ownership of the business or residence where the alarm system is located; and, 

(e) Use reasonable care to prevent runaway alarms.  

4-16-5. - Duties of the Alarm Company. 

(a) No alarm company shall fail to provide a list of existing names and addresses of alarm users in the city to the alarm administrator within thirty (30) days after being notified in writing from the alarm administrator. 

(b) No alarm company that installs an alarm system on premises located within the city shall fail to notify the alarm administrator within ten (10) days after the date of installation that an alarm system has been installed and provide the name and address of the alarm user. 

(c) No alarm company that purchases any alarm system account from another person shall fail to notify the alarm administrator of such purchase and shall provide the alarm administrator a complete list of the acquired customers within thirty (30) days of purchase. This information shall include the alarm user name; alarm site address; and alarm permit number. 

(d) No alarm company shall fail to provide the alarm administrator with a complete list of active customer names; the alarm locations; and the alarm permit numbers on or before the first of January of each year. 

(e) No alarm company shall fail to: [1] Upon request by the city, provide the name, address, and telephone number of an alarm user or a designee; and [2] Upon the activation of an alarm, contact a responsible party to respond to the alarm premises. 

(f) No alarm company shall fail to provide instructions explaining the proper operation of the alarm system, including prevention of false alarms, to the alarm user prior to activation of an alarm system. 

(g) No alarm company shall fail to provide the alarm user with information on how to obtain an alarm permit prior to the installation of the alarm system. 

(h) Upon an activation of an alarm, no alarm company performing alarm monitoring services shall fail to: [1] Utilize enhanced call verification to verify the need for police response by making at least two attempts to reach a responsible party by calling at least two different numbers to determine whether an alarm signal is valid before requesting police response. Call verification is not required for a panic alarm; robbery alarm; or a crime-in-progress alarm which has been verified by video or audible means. [2] Provide alarm permit number, responsible party name and phone number to the city manager or designee. [3] Communicate any and all available information about the location and nature of the alarm. [4] Communicate a cancellation to the police department as soon as possible following a determination that police response is unnecessary. [5] Keep a record of the date and time of each notification and activation of an alarm system is received and the date, time and method by which the responsible party was notified. Such records shall be retained for 12 months and be released to the city manager upon request. If released to the city manager, the record shall be considered a trade secret of the alarm company and not a public record. 

(i) No alarm salesperson, alarm service person or alarm installer shall activate an alarm signal that results in a false alarm. 

(j) No alarm installation companies shall fail to install only dual-activation devices for robbery alarm devices on all new and upgraded alarms. 

4-16-6. - Enforcement Provisions

If the city manager finds a violation of any provision of this chapter, the manager, after notice and an opportunity for hearing under the procedures prescribed by Chapter 1-3, “Quasi Judicial Hearings,B.R.C. 1981, the city manager may impose a civil penalty according to the following schedule: 

(a) Activation of a false alarm within a twelve month period: For the second violation, $100; For the third violation, $200; For the fourth violation, $300; and For the fifth and subsequent violation $450. 

(b) Other violations of this Chapter, $100. 

(c) The city manager may offer an alarm user awareness class. If offered, the class will provide information to alarm users about the problems created by false alarms and provide instruction on how to help reduce false alarms. In the city's discretion, an alarm user may be provided the option of attending a class in lieu of paying one assessed fine, not to exceed $100.00 in one twelve (12) month period. 

(d) The city manager's authority under this section is in addition to any other authority the city has to enforce this chapter, including but not limited to Section 5-2-4, “General Penalties,” B.R.C. 1981, and election of one remedy by the manager shall not preclude any other remedy. 

44-16-7. - Suspension of Alarm Permit and Police Response. 

(a) An alarm permit and police response to alarms, excluding robbery and panic alarms, may be suspended after a notice of suspension is sent by either first class mail or email to the alarm user's and alarm company's addresses located on the permit stating the amount due and the opportunity for a hearing if: [1] The alarm user fails to make payment of any civil penalty assessed under this ordinance within 30 (thirty) days from the date of the invoice; or [2] The alarm user fails to have a current permit; or An alarm site has accumulated five (5) false alarm responses in a twelve (12) month period. 

(b) Police response to an alarm site will be reinstated as soon as practical, after receiving notice of reinstatement from the alarm administrator. If an alarm permit is reinstated after suspension, the city may again suspend the alarm permit if two false alarms occur within 60 (sixty) days after the reinstatement date. 

Police response will be reinstated upon submittal of the following to the alarm administrator: [1] Payment of reinstatement fee;    [2] A written statement describing how false alarms will be prevented; and [3] A written statement from an alarm company that the alarm has been inspected or repaired.  

Section 2. 4-20-16, B.R.C. 1981, is amended to read: 

4-20-8. - Police Alarm Permit Fees. 

(a) An applicant for an alarm permit shall pay an annual fee to be determined by the city manager. 

(b) An alarm user shall pay a $25 reinstatement fee to reinstate a suspended alarm permit. 

Section 3. This ordinance is necessary to protect the public health, safety, and welfare of the residents of the city, and covers matters of local concern. 

Section 4. The city council deems it appropriate that this ordinance be published by title only and orders that copies of this ordinance be made available in the office of the city clerk for public inspection and acquisition. 

INTRODUCED, READ ON FIRST READING, AND ORDERED PUBLISHED BY TITLE ONLY this 21st day of June, 2016.  READ ON SECOND READING, AMENDED AND ORDERED PUBLISHED BY TITLE ONLY this 19th day of July, 2016. READ ON THIRD READING, PASSED, ADOPTED, AND ORDERED PUBLISHED BY TITLE ONLY this 16th day of August, 2016.