The New Orleans City Council last week unanimously approved changes to how the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) responds to false alarms, updating a 20-year-old policy by significantly increasing fines for falsely tripped burglar and security systems.
NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison says his department spends 12,000 man-hours and $400,000 each year responding to false alarms — which account for one of every three NOPD emergency responses. Harrison and the council agreed that time and money could be better spent elsewhere.
Under the new ordinance, alarm companies have to make two calls to a residence to confirm an emergency before officers are dispatched. If an officer does investigate and determines it was a false alarm, the resident gets a written warning. There's a $75 fine for the second false alarm response, $150 for a third, and $150 for a fourth, along with NOPD's suspension of alarm responses to that residence. (The false alarm count resets each year.) There are also $25 late fees if the fines aren't paid within 30 days, with $100 added for every additional 10 days the fine is delinquent.
Councilman-at-Large Jason Williams said NOPD manpower is spread too thin to respond to false alarms, "even if we graduate every single officer."
"We don't have enough officers for every district," he said, adding that an officer shouldn't be expected to investigate "if a terrier jumps on the couch in someone's house."