97 percent of alarm calls to Memphis 911 are false alarms - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

97 percent of alarm calls to Memphis 911 are false alarms

(SOURCE: WMC Action News 5) (SOURCE: WMC Action News 5)
(SOURCE: WMC Action News 5) (SOURCE: WMC Action News 5)

It's an expensive problem that is tying up police and fire resources and costing taxpayers a fortune. According to the mayor's office, a total of 97 percent of 911 calls that came into the call center were false alarms.

"That's a lot. That's entirely too much," Dominique Beard said. "I feel like people could be more considerate and letting them know whether they're in real danger or not. But, a lot of the time, they're not even home when it happens."

Beard was shocked to hear how many false alarms Memphis Police and Fire have responded to this year. But, she said sometimes alarms go off when people are not home.

She said her own grandmother has had problems with her alarm going off when she wasn't home to answer the call from the alarm company and tell them police didn't need to respond.

Beard agrees something needs to be done about the problem. He said the false alarms are costing Memphis taxpayers $1.5 million a year.

"That's a lot of money being wasted when there's real problems going on," Beard said.

Although the financial burden bothers her, Jill Norcross said it is more than just a financial burden. She is more concerned about the police and fire resources being tied up responding to false alarms when there may be real emergencies.

"The people in need aren't getting the attention," Norcross said.

A spokeswoman for MPD said they are looking into ways to address the problem and bring that 97 percent figure down. The City Council has also started discussing possible solutions.

Beard isn't sure what the solution to the problem is, but she thinks that if the same people or businesses are having false alarms and tying up resources then there should be consequences.

"They should be penalized for that," Beard said.

The city has an alarms office and an ordinance about false alarms. Currently, people pay an initial $30 registration fee for an alarm permit and then they pay a $5 renewal fee annually.

Under the alarms ordinance, which was developed to stop the false alarms problem, after a person's 4th false alarm, they have to go to an alarm class.

Any additional false alarms after that, the person has to pay a $25 fine.

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