Casper Council Talks About Implementing Fines for False Alarm
At the Casper City Council meeting on Tuesday, the council agreed to move forward with changes to city ordinances that would impose fines on people and businesses that produce a large number of false alarms.
At the meeting, police chief Keith McPheeters said that since 2017, the police department has responded to 6,182 private intrusion alarms, with 99.2% of those, or 6,131, being false alarms.
While McPheeters said he doesn't want to stop responding to places even if there have been a large number of false alarms, they want there to be some responsibility on the business causing the false alarm to fix the problem.
McPheeters said it takes an officer about 16 minutes to respond to each false alarm, adding up to an average of 633 hours per year that the police department ends up wasting by dealing with false alarms.
In 2020, 16 locations had more than 10 false alarms, with one location responsible for 30 false alarms, and in 2021 there were 11 chronic offenders with the worst at 28.
The proposed changes would create a $250 charge for each false alarm above 6, which increases to $500 per false alarm above 14, though when it comes to false hold up alarms, the number is decreased to above two and above five, as those types of alarms require the response of more officers.
Vice Mayor Steve Freel asked McPheeters about what happens if the false alarm is due to a natural occurrence like birds or lightning strikes.
McPheeters said in response that it would be at the officer's discretion to clarify what caused the alarm and to not mark it against the person or business if it's due to natural causes.
The change to the ordinance would need to go through three public readings before it is put on the books and may go through some changes along the way, as councilmember Bruce Knell said he's worried about charging businesses too much in fines.