False Alarms

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Online Permit Form
One page alarm permit form. Simply print out, complete, and mail in!

History of the Oxnard False Alarm Problem
In 1997, The Oxnard City Code relating to alarm systems underwent a major revision, based partly upon the following facts and figures from 1995:

» The Oxnard Police Department responded to 6,264 false alarms in 1995.
» Only 1.55% of the 6,264 alarms received by the Oxnard Police Department reported an actual or attempted crime
» Of the 97 actual alarms, 79 were from systems that had no false alarms the entire year and the remaining 18 legitimate alarms were from alarm systems that had only one false alarm in 1995. All alarm systems with three or more false alarms in 1995 never reported an actual or attempted crime!
» In 1996, one property accounted for 133 false alarms; another resulted in 115 responses by Oxnard Police.
In 1998, Oxnard responded to 6,931 alarm calls which comprised 10 percent of all calls for police service. The average cost for police response was $62.04. With 98.8% of all alarms calls determined to be false, the cost of responding to false alarms in 1998 was $424,725.84. The false alarm program was started in July of 1998.

Summary of Enforcement Efforts
1998 6,931 N/A $21,300 N/A
1999 4,639 -33% $75,575 +355%
2000 4,743 +2% $89,725 +19%
2001 4,831 +2% $73,680 -18%
2002 4,595 -5% $70,589 -4%
2003 4,206 -8% $121,366 +75%
2004 3,683 -12% $90,207 -26%
2005 3,449 -6% $94,557 +5%
2006 3,173 -8% $70,420 -25%
2007 3,147 -1% $63,420 -9%
2008 3,003 -4% $53,020 -16%
Many of the Ordinance changes were based upon the Alarm Ordinance Model provided by the National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association and the False Alarm Reduction Association.

Our efforts at combating false alarms are getting results but there is work yet to be done. See a chart on the results of the Oxnard false alarm reduction effort from 2000 to 2009.

Use Only Licensed Alarm Companies
Make sure that you only deal with an alarm company licensed by the California State Department of Consumer Affairs, Bureau of Security & Investigative Services. Consumer Affairs now offers a way to check for valid alarm licensing online. You can search by county name, alarm license number, or name of the alarm company, alarm company qualified manager or alarm company employee.

Not only must the company be licensed to do business in California, so must the alarm company employee that comes to your home or business to install or repair the alarm system. If in doubt, ask the alarm employee for his A.C.E. (Alarm Company Employee) card. If they do not have one in their possession, contact the Oxnard Police Department Alarm Control Officer immediately at 385-7672 and do not allow the employee to enter your home!

What is a False Alarm?
According to Oxnard City Code 16.1-48, a false alarm is any alarm, whether audible or silent, to which the responding officer finds no evidence or situation requiring a response by a police officer, such as an attempted crime, a crime in progress or a crime that has just occurred. A false alarm includes a site where one or more doors or windows are found unsecured and there is no evidence of unlawful entry. Alarms that are activated due to a power outage are also considered false. Silent robbery alarm set-off by owners or employees to report an incident other than a robbery is also a false alarm.

Examples of False Alarm Events
» Malfunctioning alarm systems
» Owner, visitor, real estate agents, cleaning crews or other employee error in disarming the alarm system
» Doors or windows left open or ajar
» Animals locked inside and moving about the premises
» Mail being dropped through a door mail-drop slot
» Power outages coupled with improper battery back-up system
» Telephone line problems
» An overly-sensitive system that activates when persons rattle a door or window
» Errors by the alarm monitoring (central station) service
» Drapes or balloons blowing in the breeze

Alarm Operation Tips
If you set off a burglary alarm by accident in a home or a business, try to contact the alarm company immediately if they do not call you. If you cannot recite the property's password or code word over the phone to the alarm operator, the police will be dispatched! It is recommended that you wait for the officers' arrival in front of the property in plain view. Remember that the responding officers probably do not know who you are, so be prepared to offer some form of identification to establish your legal presence on the property in question.

In the case of an accidental activation of a robbery or takeover (ambush) alarm, be aware that the responding officers must assume the worst... And the worst for them is the presence of armed suspects on the property. The alarm company will not call you to verify this type of alarm. You may receive a telephone call from police dispatch. It is essential that you do exactly as you are told.

Responding to alarm calls is serious business for the police. Every year, officers are killed while responding to these type of calls. Until proven otherwise, we must assume that we are dealing with a crime in progress. Keep this in mind when you accidentally activate your alarm.

Alarm System Fines, Fees, and Penalties
Initial alarm system permit for residential or commercial property $25.00
Biannual (every two years) renewal of alarm permit $5.00
Initial alarm permit fee and renewals for persons over the age of 60, educational institutions or governmental agencies NO CHARGE
First or second manually activated false alarm in a 12-month period $205.00
Third false alarm in any 12-month period $205.00
Fourth false alarm in any 12-month period $230.00
Fifth and each subsequent false alarm during a 12-month period $280.00
Appeal or hearing fee $79.00
No alarm permit on file. Fine waived if permit obtained within 30 days $205.00
Failure to have responsible party respond to alarm site within 45 minutes of police request $205.00
Improper use of alarm $205.00
Failure to update alarm permit information within 30 days of change $205.00
Simple interest accrual on unpaid fines, fees and penalties. Failure to pay will result in civil action being taken against you. 7%

How to Appeal a Fine
You have the right to appeal alarm fines, fees and penalties. You may also appeal alarm permit denials, suspensions or revocations. If your appeal is about a permit, you must request a hearing by mail stating why you believe your alarm system now meets the standards established by the City. Once the fee and letter are received by the Police Department, the hearing will be held within 30 days.

If you are appealing a false alarm fine, you may request a hearing in person or by affidavit (in writing). The hearing is designed to give you an opportunity to show that the alarm reported to the Police either did not occur or were not false alarms. The hearing officer will determine if the fine, fee or penalties assessed by the Department are justified.

False Alarm School
FINALLY! There is an alternative to paying a fine for a False Alarm in Oxnard, California

The City of Oxnard has partnered with the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) to offer this informative and interactive online training for False Alarm Prevention. Those who receive a citation for a False Alarm can opt out of paying a fine by taking this online course. Simply take the course, pass the test, and print your certificate. Present your certificate stating that you have successfully taken the course and passed the test to the City of Oxnard and you will not be required to pay your fine.

The certificate is good for up to one false alarm fine. Details | Course Access

If you have any questions, please contact Celia Besore at 703/242-4670, Ext. 16, or by email at communications@csaaul.org.

Summary of 2002 Alarm Code Changes
During public hearing, the Oxnard City Council approved Ordinance No. 2601 modifying local laws related to alarm response and billing. On July 4, 2002, the new ordinance went into effect. This letter is intended as an overview of these changes. The unabridged ordinance is also available online for your review.

The revised alarm systems ordinance makes important changes to the existing ordinance to increase the effectiveness of the City’s false alarm reduction program and to broaden the ordinance to address new technologies. The following are the highlights (not an exhaustive list) of the most important changes to the ordinance. For specific information, please consult the unabridged ordinance.

Verification Required
Central station monitoring companies must verify burglar (automatic) alarms before making an alarm dispatch request to police. Additional information for central stations available here.

Fire Department
The new ordinance now includes fire-related alarms and alarm users may be fined for false fire alarms.

Mobile Security Devices (Telematics)
Defines mobile security devices (MSD) as alarm systems and defines when police will respond. Requires information from companies making MSD dispatch requests. MSD companies are billed for false alarms directly. Allows for the suspension of police response if MSD companies do not pay for false alarm responses in a timely fashion.

Manual versus Automatic Alarms
Differentiates between manually activated and automatically activated alarms. Those alarms activated by the pressing of a switch will no longer have gratis false alarm responses. Alarms activated by automated devices will continue to enjoy two free false alarms in any consecutive twelve-month period.

Appeal Procedure
Allows alarm users to appeal alarm action in person, through a representative, or in writing. Deactivation of Runaway Alarm Requires alarm sirens to reset after 15 minutes. Allows police or fire personnel to take whatever action is necessary to silence an audible alarm after 45 minutes of continual sounding.

Alarm Dispatch Suspension
Allows for the suspension of response to those alarm users who do not pay their alarm fines in a timely fashion (within 30 days) whose alarm systems generate eight or more false alarms in a twelve-month period. In order to reinstate response, the alarm user must attend a conference with the alarm administrator and alarm system provider. The user must provide proof of system repair and attend the City of Oxnard False Alarm School within 180 days.

Problems with Your Alarm Company
If you are having issues with your current alarm system or alarm company, the Ventura County Security Association is here to help. The VCSA offers no cost evaluation of your current alarm system and will work to help you resolve issues with your current alarm provider or even find you a new one. Contact the VCSA at (805) 529-8955 or at http://www.thevcsa.org.

False Alarm Links for Law Enforcement and Others

Central Station Information

False Alarm Reduction Association
International Association of Chiefs of Police False Alarm Perspectives
Security Industry Association
Central Station Alarm Association
Alarm Industry Research & Educational Foundation
False Alarm Analysis Program -- Free Tracking & Analysis Software for Law Enforcement

For additional information on false alarm abatement, permitting procedure and billing information, contact Oxnard Police Alarm Ordinance Coordinator at (805) 385-7672.

» History of the Oxnard False Alarm Problem
» What is a False Alarm?
» Alarm Operation Tips
» Alarm Fines, Fees, Permits, and Penalties
» How to Appeal a Fine
» Summary of 2002 Ordinance Changes
» Unabridged Text of Alarm Code
» Central Station Information
» False Alarm Links