Ga. False Alarms Cost Big Money

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. --

Channel 2 Action News has discovered DeKalb County has missed out at least $500,000 from residents who are not paying fines when their home or business alarms go off accidentally.

For more than a year, the county has failed to bill anyone for having too many false alarms.

These violations are also wasting valuable time and resources for the police and fire departments.

Most Georgia counties, including DeKalb, have rules in place to collect fees from residents who have too many false police and fire calls that tie up resources.

Officials told Channel 2 Action News Investigative Reporter Jodie Fleischer that in 2009 more than 79,000, or 97 percent of calls to the police and fire departments were false alarms. Residents in DeKalb can have four false alarms before they are charged by the county.

For more than a year, DeKalb has not collected a dime from violators due to a computer glitch. Fleischer discovered DeKalb has had trouble making citizens pay for fines in the past, as well. She learned the county has billed, but failed to collect approximately $496,000 over the past five years. With the way the current law is written, there is no way for the county to force residents to pay up.

DeKalb County told Fleischer it has approved a $90,000 software program to fix the computer problem, in this year's budget. Officials are studying whether they need to toughen their rules about how much they charge and how often, as well.

Jeff Wiggs is a DeKalb officer and president of their Fraternal Order of Police Lodge. He told Fleischer with the county looking at massive budget cuts, it's a shame to leave hundreds of thousands of dollars uncollected. Precious police and fire resources are being wasted too, said Wiggs.

"The time getting there, walking around sometimes waiting on a key holder to get there check the inside of the building, so we're talking about tieing up an officer 15 to 30 minutes on each alarm call, said Wiggs.

MORE DETAILS:Statement on False Alarms by Public Safety Director William Z. Miller

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