Frequently Asked Questions: Security Alarms
Who is required to have an alarm permit?
Everyone operating a professionally installed/monitored alarm inside the City limits is required to maintain an alarm permit.
How do I register my alarm system?
The City of Oxnard has contracted with Public Safety Corporation (“PSC”) to manage its alarm program. As of April 1, 2019, PSC will manage alarm permit registration, false alarm notifications, billing, and collections. It will also provide customer support. In the meantime, REGISTER HERE
Through PSC, alarm users will be able to renew their annual permits online (the web link(s) will be announced in the coming weeks). Once registered with PSC, users will have a logon and password, and may access their account at any time.
Permit registration for those without computer access can be done through PSC at its customer service phone number:
(855) 864-4270 **This number will be activated on April 1, 2019**
What is the cost of the alarm registration?
The annual registration fee is currently $25 per year.
Are fee waivers available for alarm permits?
No. The City Code does not authorize the Police Department to waive alarm permit fees.
Do I have to register my car alarm?
No, car alarms do not need to be registered.
I own a “do it yourself” / “monitor it yourself” security alarm system. Do I need to get a permit?
No. You would need to get a permit if your alarm system is professionally installed/monitored. However, you are still subject to police responses caused by false alarm activations.
What is a False Alarm?
Oxnard Alarm Ordinance, Section 11-63 (Q) defines a false alarms as: “Alarms, to which responding personnel, having investigated the alarm site, find no evidence of a situation requiring a response by such personnel, or except for an alarm based on fire or medical emergency, find that the alarm site contains one or more unsecured exterior doors or windows. A false alarm includes an alarm caused by a power outage, but does not include an alarm caused by a force majeure or an extraordinary condition not reasonably within the control of the alarm business or alarm user. False alarms include situations involving an authorized person or persons at the alarm location who do not use the proper alarm code.”
Are false alarms a problem?
Yes, they are a drain on public safety resources!
Studies across the nation have estimated that about 98% of alarm calls received by communications centers are false alarms. During 2018, the Oxnard Police Department responded to 4,789 alarm calls (3,103 commercial and 1,720 residential). Oxnard’s alarm call rates bear this out: 99.3% of commercial alarms and residential alarms in 2018 were false. Given the high percentage of false alarms, it is clear that the Police Department’s response to false alarms, and the time spent investigating these calls is an inefficient use of resources and time. At any given time of the day, these calls compete with other calls for service.
What is an “excessive” number of false alarms?
False alarms are defined as being excessive when more than one (1) police response to a false alarm occurs during a twelve (12) month period. Alarm users can be fined $145 for the second false alarm within a twelve month period, and $145 for each one within a twelve month period.
What are common causes of false alarms?
- Malfunctioning alarm systems
- An overly-sensitive system that activates when persons rattle a door or window
- Owner, visitor, real estate agents, cleaning crews, or other employee error in disarming the alarm system (most often not knowing the disarm code).
- 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 an improper battery backup system
- Telephone line problems
- Drapes or balloons blowing in the breeze
- Improperly secured doors or windows blown open by wind
How long do I have to pay a false alarm fine?
Thirty (30) days.
What happens if I do not pay the fine?
If an alarm user does not pay the fine within sixty (60) days for excessive false alarm fees and penalties, the City will suspend the alarm user’s permit. A suspension of an alarm user’s permit includes the suspension of police responses to burglary alarm calls to the site. In addition:
Absent a written request to their alarm service and the Alarm Administrator that indicates otherwise, the suspension of an alarm user’s permit will not discontinue dispatch responses to the alarm site for robbery, panic, and duress alarms.
All police alarm-generated responses to the alarm site whose permit has been suspended shall be treated and fined as the equivalent of a response to an excessive false alarm, regardless of circumstance or call disposition. That’s a $145 fine per alarm response.
If you receive a notice of suspension, you have the right to a hearing.
What happens if my alarm generates more than five (5) false alarm responses during a twelve (12) month period?
In such cases, the alarm user’s permit for that location may be revoked. Any alarm-generated police response to an alarm site that has a suspended permit will result in a $145 fine per response.
Absent a written request to their alarm service and the Alarm Administrator that indicates otherwise, the revocation of an alarm user’s permit will not discontinue dispatch responses to the alarm site for robbery, panic, and duress alarms.
All police alarm dispatch responses to the alarm site whose permit has been revoked shall be treated and fined as the equivalent of a response to an excessive false alarm, regardless of circumstance or call disposition. That’s a $290 fine per alarm response!
If my permit gets suspended, how can I reinstate it?
You will have to reapply for a new permit, pay all due fines and penalties, and submit a letter from your alarm business. The letter must indicate that the alarm business inspected the alarm system, found that the alarm system is in proper condition, and complies with the standards contained in this article. The letter must be submitted to the Alarm Administrator.
If I disagree with an fine, or a permit suspension/revocation,can I appeal?
Yes, if you disagree, the ordinance does have an appeal provision. Click here for more information.
What are the Police Department and alarm monitoring businesses doing to reduce police responses to false alarms?
Oxnard’s alarm ordinance now requires alarm businesses to attempt to contact a minimum of two (2) pre-designated alarm client phone numbers before contacting the police department. This practice is known as “Enhanced Call Confirmation.” This process does not apply to robbery alarms, panic alarms, duress alarms, gun stores, banks, pharmacies, and other specific locations determined by the Police Chief.
More information about Oxnard’s False Alarm Reduction Program:
Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC): Tips for Alarm Users
Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC): Five Quick Tips for Proper Alarm Use