False alarms taking up RCMP time

The Elk Valley RCMP is asking for the City of Fernie’s help in minimizing the amount of false alarms they attend to.

The Elk Valley RCMP is asking for the City of Fernie’s help in minimizing the amount of false alarms they attend to.

If an alarm goes off at a business or residence within Fernie it is the RCMP’s responsibility to attend to the scene and determine if there is an actual break-in taking place. More often than not, it’s just a false alarm.

“We are wasting a lot of time and police resources answering false alarms,” stated Corporal Don Erichson with the Elk Valley RCMP.

“There’s nothing more frustrating for us than to be monitoring downtown and all of a sudden have to pull one vehicle away in order to address an alarm, which we know, even before we get there, is about 99 per cent likely to be false.”

According to the Elk Valley RCMP’s third quarter report, there has been a 53 per cent increase in false alarms since last year. During the months of July, August, and September, there were 49 police responses to false alarms, in comparison to only 30 during the same period in 2011.

“When false alarms happen there is no cost to the company that is installing them and there is not cost to the end user,” Erichson said. “They simply expect the police to go and address it. It takes our members away from the key points in the community where we need to be.”

The RCMP is now turning to the City to help them come up with a solution.

Many B.C. municipalities have a fine system where after a grace period of a certain number of false alarms in a year, the service provider and/or the customer are faced with paying every time police have to respond.

While Fernie does not currently have a bylaw in place that deals with false alarms, the RCMP suggested looking to neighbouring communities for examples.

The District of Elkford maintains a bylaw that allows for up to two false alarms within the calendar year, with fines coming into place at the third false alarm.

Erichson asked mayor and council to consider bringing in a similar system.

“I think it would see the responsibility on the owner and partly the end user increase greatly,” he explained. “That would go a long way to improving the availability of members to address other things that are going on.”

Council agreed to take the matter under consideration.

 

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