By VASHTI HARRIS
SOUTH RIVER– Aiming to reduce false alarm incidents in South River, the Borough Council passed an ordinance that will implement a stricter penalty system and eliminate registration fees.
In a 5-1 vote, the council approved an ordinance amending the borough’s code Chapter 99 alarm system section during its regular council meeting on April 10.
A false alarm is defined as any alarm actuated by inadvertence, negligence or unintentional act of someone other than an intruder, in which the police respond and shall include, as well as alarms caused by malfunctioning of the alarm device or other relevant equipment, according to the ordinance.
Any residents who have an alarm system must register it with the borough clerk by filling out an application for a permit. The application will include information required by the police chief to enable the chief to effectively carry out public safety responsibilities, according to the ordinance.
In the previous code for alarm systems, commercial/business alarms had a $25 registration fee while residential alarms had a $10 registration fee per residence/unit. The new ordinance eliminates the registration fees.
Under the old code for residential false alarms: if three false alarms occurred a warning would be issued, for the fourth through sixth false alarm a $25 fee would be issued, for the seventh through ninth false alarm a $125 fee would be given, and for the 10th to every subsequent false alarm a $125 fee would be issued.
Regarding commercial false alarms: for the fourth through sixth false alarm a $50 fee would be issued, for the seventh through ninth false alarm a $150 would be given, and for the 10th to every subsequent false alarm a $250 fee would be issued, according to the original code.
The new ordinance changes the penalty system associated with false alarm occurrences.
Applying to alarm systems that are registered: on the first false alarm, a warning shall be issued; on the second and third false alarms, a $25 penalty fee will be given; and on every subsequent false alarm, a $100 fee will be issued, according to the ordinance.
“We amended the ordinance to eliminate the fee associated with registering your alarm systems annually, because the fee did nothing to keep us safe. We then made changes to the penalties to reduce repeat false alarm offenders and reduce the time our police force is sent out on false alarms. But, plainly, this is a win for public safety and a win for residents/businesses,” Councilman Ryan Jones said.
If a resident’s alarm system is not registered with the borough, a $25 additional penalty will be incurred. However, the penalty can be waived if the owner registers his or her alarm within 10 days of receipt of the penalty, according to the ordinance.