Fee for police to respond to false alarms in county rises to $385

WELLINGTON COUNTY – The Police Services Board has approved a bylaw increasing the charge for “at fault” false alarms.

“The number of false alarms in the county has been identified as consuming a significant quantity of [police] resources which could be better utilized to enhance the police presence in the County of Wellington,” the new bylaw states.

Staff, as directed by the board, determined the cost of a single at-fault false alarm to be $385 and a new policy, passed last month and taking effect this month, seeks to recoup the full cost.

The previous system was “antiquated,” said Police Services Board member and county councillor David Anderson.

Fees for at-fault false alarms, caused by faulty equipment or human error, haven’t been changed in the two decades since the policy’s inception in 2002.

Whereas the old policy worked on a graduated fee – $50 for the first, $100 for the second and a $100 increase for every alarm thereafter – the amount billed will now be $385 every time.

Anderson pointed out that even with three at-fault alarm fees billed at a total of $350, the cost of a single alarm response wasn’t being recouped.

“The taxpayers are picking up the rest of the dollars,” he remarked.

The county and Wellington OPP will also keep track of locations with false alarm issues to work with habitual problem locations.

The county policy states most at-fault false alarms are caused by faulty equipment or human error, but fees can be appealed if alarm holders are able to prove their system was malfunctioning, or that “significant corrective action” was taken to repair or replace a faulty system.

In 2021, there were 272 false alarms, an increase of 44% over the 189 false alarms in 2020.

Revenue collected from false alarm billings for the years 2020 and 2021 amounted to $36,600, according to county data.

Last month, there were 19 false alarms amounting to an invoiced total of $1,450, of which $500 has been collected as of Feb. 9.

Fees that go unpaid are added to tax bills.