Chapter 10

False Security Alarms

5-10-1: Purpose


The purpose of this chapter is to reduce the number of false security alarms, thereby enhancing police response time for critical calls for service and reducing the costs to the City for the police response to the increasing number of false security alarms. Further, the intent of this chapter is to encourage alarm businesses and alarm users to maintain the operational viability of security alarm systems and to hold owners of alarm systems accountable for the costs associated with responding to false alarms. (1952 Code § 6-15-01)

5-10-2: Definitions


For the purposes of this chapter, the following terms, phrases and words, and derivations thereof, shall have the meanings given herein. The word "shall" is mandatory and not merely directory.

ALARM INSTALLATION COMPANY: A person in the business of selling, providing, maintaining, servicing, repairing, altering, replacing, moving or installing an alarm system in a business or residence.

ALARM MONITORING BUSINESS: Any person, firm or corporation who is engaged in the monitoring of security alarm systems and the summoning of police response to activations thereof. This includes both businesses that are engaged in alarm monitoring for profit and businesses that have specialized units or subsidiaries that monitor only their own alarm systems.

ALARM OFFICER: The Chief of the Boise City Police Department or his designee.

ALARM SYSTEM: Any mechanical, electrical or other device which is designed or used for the detection of a trespass, burglary or robbery within a building, structure or facility, or for alerting others to a hazard or to the commission of an unlawful act within a building, structure or facility, or which emits a sound or transmits a signal or message when activated and which is designed to elicit a response from the Police Department. Alarm systems include, but are not limited to, direct dial telephone devices, audible alarms and proprietor alarms. Devices which are not designed or used to register alarms but are audible, visible or perceptible outside the protected building, structure or facility are not included with this definition. An alarm system includes all the necessary equipment designed and installed for the detection of a trespass, burglary, robbery or other hazard in a single building, structure or facility, or for alerting others to the commission of an unlawful act within a building, structure or facility.

ALARM USER: Any person who purchases, leases, contracts for or otherwise obtains a security alarm system or contracts for the servicing or maintenance of a security alarm system.

AUDIBLE ALARM: A device designed for the detection of unauthorized entry or presence on certain premises which generates an audible sound or signal on such premises when it is activated.

AUTOMATIC DIALING DEVICE: An alarm system which automatically sends over regular telephone lines, by direct connection or otherwise, a prerecorded voice message or coded signal indicating the existence of an emergency situation that the alarm system is designed to detect.

EMERGENCY: Any condition for which the alarm was designed and installed, and which results in a response of police personnel.

ENHANCED CALL VERIFICATION: An independent method whereby the alarm monitoring company attempts to determine that a signal from an automatic alarm system reflects a need for immediate police assistance or investigation. This verification process will be conducted by the alarm system monitoring personnel and shall consist of making two (2) phone calls to the responsible party or parties and shall not take more than five (5) minutes from the time the alarm signal has been accepted by the alarm system monitoring company. At least one of the two (2) phone calls must be made to a party off the premises upon which the alarm system is installed.

FALSE ALARM: An alarm signal, message, transmittal or communication which is activated from an alarm system and which is responded to by personnel of the Police Department for which no emergency situation exists or existed as determined by the responding police personnel. False alarms shall not include alarms caused by natural occurrences, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes or other extraordinary circumstances determined by the alarm officer to be clearly beyond the control of the alarm user.

HOLDUP ALARM (Also DURESS ALARM, ROBBERY ALARM OR PANIC ALARM): An alarm signal generated by the manual or automatic activation of a device, or any system, device or mechanism on or near the premises intended to signal that a robbery or other crime is in progress, and that one or more persons are in need of immediate police assistance in order to avoid injury, serious bodily harm or death at the hands of the perpetrator of the robbery or other crime.

ONE PLUS DURESS ALARM: A security alarm system which permits the manual activation of an alarm signal by entering on a keypad a code that either adds the value of 1 to the last digit of a normal arm/disarm code (e.g., the normal arm/disarm code "1234" if entered as "1235" automatically activates the duress alarm feature) or that involves entering any incorrect final digit to a normal arm/disarm code.

PENALTY STATUS: That status achieved by more than one false alarm within the calendar year beginning January 1 and ending December 31.

PERSON: Any individual, partnership, association, corporation or organization of any kind, or any governmental entity or political subdivision thereof.

SIA CONTROL PANEL STANDARD CP-01: The American National Standard Institute (ANSI) approved Security Industry Association (SIA) CP-01 Control Panel Standard, as may be updated from time to time, that details recommended design features for security system control panels and their associated arming and disarming devices to reduce the incidence of false alarms. Control panels built and tested to this standard by Underwriters Laboratory (UL), or other nationally recognized testing organizations, will be marked to state: "Design Evaluated in Accordance With SIA CP-01 Control Panel Standard Features for False Alarm Reduction". (1952 Code § 6-15-02)

5-10-3: Duties Of Alarm Installers And Monitoring Companies


A. Instructions To Users: The alarm installation company shall provide written and oral instructions to each of its alarm users in the proper use and operation of their alarm systems. Such instructions will specifically include all instructions necessary to turn the alarm system on and off and to avoid false alarms. (1952 Code § 6-15-03)


B. Review Of Checklist: After completion of the installation of an alarm system, an alarm installation company employee shall review with the alarm user the customer alarm prevention checklist (maintained by the Police Department) or an equivalent checklist approved by the alarm officer. The signed checklists shall be maintained by the company for a period of three (3) years. (1952 Code § 6-15-03; amd. 2019 Code)


C. One Plus Duress Alarms: After the effective date hereof, alarm installation companies shall not program alarm systems so that they are capable of sending one plus (1+) duress alarms. Monitoring companies may continue to report one plus (1+) duress alarms received from alarm systems programmed with one plus (1+) duress alarms prior to enactment of this chapter. However, upon the effective date hereof, when a takeover or conversion occurs or if an alarm user requests an alarm system inspection or modification, the alarm installation company must remove the one plus (1+) duress alarm capability from such alarm system.


D. Holdup Alarm: After the effective date hereof, alarm installation companies shall not install a device to activate a holdup alarm which consists of a single action and nonrecessed button.


E. Automatic Dialing Devices: An alarm installation or monitoring company shall not install or use automatic dialing devices.


F. Enhanced Call Verification: Enhanced call verification is required. After the effective date hereof, every alarm monitoring company shall verify every security alarm signal prior to requesting a police dispatch by making two (2) phone calls to the responsible party or parties not more than five (5) minutes from the time the alarm signal has been accepted by the alarm system monitoring company. At least one of the two (2) phone calls must be made to a party off the premises upon which the alarm system is installed.


G. Silencing Alarm Upon Activation: Upon notification that an alarm system is activated, the alarm monitoring company shall immediately proceed to silence the alarm or ensure that the alarm is silenced. The silencing of the alarm must be completed within fifteen (15) minutes after notification of activation when the alarm system is protecting a residential structure or within thirty (30) minutes when the alarm system is protecting a commercial or industrial structure. (1952 Code § 6-15-03)

5-10-4: Responsibilities Of Alarm Users


A. Maintenance: Each alarm user shall maintain each alarm system in good working order, and provide the necessary service to prevent malfunctions.


B. Proper Use: Each alarm user is responsible for assuring that the alarm system is used properly and in accordance with the manufacturer's directions and the law. Inherent in this responsibility is assuring that all persons with access to the alarm system are properly trained on correct use of the system and are authorized to cancel accidental activations, and assuring that procedures and practices are followed that minimize the risk of false alarms.


C. Silencing Alarm: Upon notification that an alarm system is activated, the alarm user shall immediately proceed to silence the alarm or ensure that the alarm is silenced. The silencing of the alarm must be completed within fifteen (15) minutes after notification of activation when the alarm system is protecting a residential structure or within thirty (30) minutes when the alarm system is protecting a commercial or industrial structure.


D. Service Fees: Each alarm user is responsible for paying service fees when it is determined that the alarm user has maintained a public nuisance alarm. (1952 Code § 6-15-04)

5-10-5: Maintaining Public Nuisance Alarm


A. Prohibited: No person shall maintain, operate, use or attempt to use an alarm system which generates more than one false alarm in a calendar year. (1952 Code § 6-15-05)


B. Service Fee: Any alarm system maintained, operated, used or attempted to be used in violation of this section shall be deemed a public nuisance alarm. In addition to reimbursement or any other remedy available to the City, the City may impose a service fee for each and every false alarm after one within the calendar year as determined by the fee schedule on file in the Police Department. (1952 Code § 6-15-05; amd. 2019 Code)


C. Notice Of Public Nuisance: Where the alarm system is deemed a public nuisance as provided in this section, the alarm officer shall provide the alarm user written notice informing the alarm user of the penalty status and the finding of public nuisance.


D. Special Rule For Public Schools: The fee for the second false alarm in any calendar year is waived for an alarm system at any public or private elementary or secondary school. The third and subsequent false alarms in any calendar year are charged at the standard service fee rate.


E. Review By Alarm Officer:

1. The alarm user may request the alarm officer to review and reconsider the determination of public nuisance by submitting a written request to the alarm officer within ten (10) days upon receipt of the notice of penalty status and nuisance. Failure to submit a written request in compliance with this subsection is deemed a waiver of any and all rights to appeal.

2. The alarm officer shall review the determination and send the alarm user his findings as to whether the alarm system is a public nuisance in writing by certified mailing within fifteen (15) days.


F. Appeal To City Council: The alarm user may request a hearing before the City Council after filing a written notice of appeal to the City Clerk no later than ten (10) days after mailing of the alarm officer's finding of public nuisance. (1952 Code § 6-15-05)

5-10-6: Compliance


A. Assessment Of Service Fee: An alarm user who has notice of the alarm system being deemed a public nuisance shall be assessed a service fee in accordance with section 5-10-5 of this chapter.


B. Remittance: An alarm user who has notice of the assessed penalty or any amount due in reimbursement shall remit within fifteen (15) days the amounts due to the City. (1952 Code § 6-15-06)

5-10-7: Prohibited Alarm Systems


A. Automatic Dialing Device: No person shall use or operate an automatic dialing device or any device programmed to initiate and deliver a message or signal to any telephone number belonging to the City or to any law enforcement dispatch service.


B. Entry Or Exit Delay: No system shall have an entry or exit delay of less than forty five (45) seconds. (1952 Code § 6-15-07)

5-10-8: Violations


A. Alarm System: It shall be unlawful to operate or maintain any "alarm system", as defined in section 5-10-2 of this chapter, for any purpose other than reporting such trespasses, burglaries, robberies or other crimes involving potential serious bodily injury or death.


B. Public Safety System: It shall be unlawful for any person to operate or use a public safety alarm system for any purpose other than that for which it is installed, or for any purpose other than detecting and reporting a trespass, burglary, robbery or other permitted purpose.


C. Malfunctioning Unit: It shall be unlawful for any alarm user or other person to install, operate or use any "alarm system", as defined in section 5-10-2 of this chapter, which malfunctions due to improper installation or operation and that results in the generation of false alarms. (1952 Code § 6-15-08)