Greenwood's council seeks fines for false alarms

Greenwood police are trying to cut down on the number of false alarms.

Greenwood's city council is trying to get approval to fine residents for false alarms.

Police officers are busy with enough from drug busts to accidents to shots fired investigations. Dispatchers and officers say the last thing they need are accidental home and business alarm activations.

Greenwood wants to join a list of cities already imposing fines for false alarms.

Police say those false alarms - maybe due to faulty sensors or just wind opening up a door left ajar - cost them money and manpower. Greenwood figures it's about $100,000 a year in wasted fuel and assets.

In fact, for every real alarm there, there could be 200 bad ones, based on city stats.

So the Johnson County city hopes to impose a $50 penalty after giving warnings for the first two false alarms. Other central Indiana communities already have that rule in place.

"It is a benefit for us to have an alarm ordinance," says Greenfield Police Department Chief John Jester.

Greenfield, in Hancock County, has had its ordinance for eight years.

Jester's department still gets bad alarms, but they're way down. The chief says people are motivated by a warning that the fourth false alarm will bring a $100 fine that could climb to $300.

"You have to respond to these as though they are good alarms," Jester said. "But if you end up hitting somebody in the middle of an intersection for an alarm that's a false alarm, we're in a jam. You run the risk of killing somebody."

Fishers allows three false alarms per year, then fines start at $25. Carmel gives two warnings then fines. Avon, also gives two warnings before fines ranging from $25 to $250 are imposed.

In Indianapolis, there is one warning, followed by a $25 fine. Repeat violations jump to $75 per incident.

Greenwood City Council has given preliminary approval. A second vote is required.