Without discussion, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors has given county staff 90 days to develop a false-alarm ordinance.

Supervisors Kevin Jeffries (1st District) and Manuel Perez (4th District) asked the concurrence of their colleagues to pursue this action.

In the proposal, the supervisors wrote, “One of the largest unnecessary uses of sheriff and fire resources is responding to false alarms.”

In 2016, the Sheriff’s Department “had 15,172 alarm calls in the unincorporated areas, of which only 37 were determined to be legitimate.” Of the remainder, responses to nearly 13,500 were made but no written report was found to be necessary. Just within the unincorporated areas of Riverside County, the fire department responded to more than 2,600 false alarms in 2017, including the department’s contract cities, which had increased false alarm responses to more than 11,700.

This is not the first attempt to reduce the time consumed responding to false alarms. A 1996 ordinance was repealed in 1997 after alarm companies filed litigation. The ordinance billed alarm companies $5 for all alarms and then imposed fines on individuals for false alarms.

In 2012, the board requested a new ordinance, but none was ever developed and brought to the board for approval.

The two supervisors want an ordinance that will decrease the number of false alarms and encourage alarm companies to improve their systems to improve the verification of the alarm before alerting first responders.