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Additional fee could come to alarm system users

(Source KSWO) (Source KSWO)

LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -Lawton residents who have an alarm system in their homes or businesses could have to start paying an additional fee, if the City Council votes to change the city code.

City Council will discuss a proposal to impose an annual alarm fee of $25 for homes and $35 for businesses. They will also add a false alarm fee, which would be triggered the fourth time the system is set off accidentally and police have to respond. Both home and business owners would be required to pay $50.

The City of Lawton went looking for solutions to cut down the number of those false alarm calls, and found other cities in Oklahoma have had success by charging citizens these fees. These calls are something that police and firefighters have to respond to every day, which is time they could spend on emergencies where someone's life is in danger.

Assistant City Manager Jim Russell says the Lawton Police Department and the Lawton Fire Department get 4,800 false alarm calls every year. He says it's a huge misdirection of resources.

"Same thing with the fire, and getting the fire truck out of the fire house and an actual fire breaks out, it delays the respond time to get to the actual scene on a legit fire," Russell said.

It can also waste the city's money by responding to all those false alarms. Responding to them adds up to enough money to pay the average yearly salary for one officer. Russell says this happens because people don't realize how sensitive alarms can be.

"A business had decided to put a cat in their business and they had not adjusted the sensitivity of the alarms, so they had the cat crawling around at night setting off the alarm and that's a false alarm," he explained.

Russell says with the fees, he hopes people will be more aware of their systems.

"This is costing us money, costing us time, and we just want you to give us a hand here and save some money out of your pocket too by adjusting those sensors and making sure the alarms are set properly," Russell said.

Lawton will also get an additional $200,000 to $300,000 a year from these fees, something that Russell says wasn't the point to the change in rules, but can be good for the city's budget.

If the city code is changed, you would have to get your alarm system registered in person at City Hall before August 1.

Copyright 2016 KSWO. All rights reserved.

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