HOUSTON (CBS Houston) In an announcement released this week by Harris County Sheriff’s Office officials, false alarm fees are set to change in unincorporated areas of Harris County.
The HCSO cites the reason for the change in fees: “The Harris County Sheriff’s Office dispatches deputies to investigate residential and commercial alarms about 100,000 times a year. About 99 percent are found to be ‘false alarms’, squandering crime-fighting resources in the unincorporated areas, where 1.5 million people live.”
Until now, a false alarm fee was assessed every time a property generated more than five false alarms per calendar year. With the approval of the most recent measure, a $75 fee will be assessed every time a property generates more than three false alarms in a calendar year.
“Harris County Commissioners Court approved the change today along with other updates to regulations enforced by the Sheriff’s Office on burglary alarms, panic alarms, and other types of alarms. Permit requirements will now apply to fire alarms as well,” added officials with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.
Harris County’s Sheriff, Adrian Garcia sees the measure as one that will make homeowners, residents more responsible for false alarms: “The changes are designed to reduce the number of false alarms and to encourage property owners to obtain permits for their alarm systems,” Sheriff Adrian Garcia said.
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office also states that the initial fee for an alarm permit is $35 with annual renewals costing $10 each. “All fee payments go into the county government’s general operating fund,” stated the HCSO.
Owners of alarm systems that have no permit may be issued a misdemeanor citation. Those citations could cost homeowners/residents fines that total up to $500 in justice of the peace court.
Click here to download the alarm regulation changes document and permit application. Harris County residents can also visit Sheriff Adrian Garcia’s website and click on on “Alarm Permit,’’ which is marked by an alarm icon.