OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office reminds residents of a new false alarm ordinance which came into effect this summer, after it was reported that the office had received numerous phone calls from confused residents.
In June, Douglas County passed a new false alarm ordinance for those who live outside the Omaha city limits.
“It’s been several years, we were still responding to alarms, we did our research and 99% of alarms in Douglas County were false alarms, taking away valuable time for deputies to do proactive policing and d ‘other law enforcement duties,’ says Deputy Chief Wayne Hudson with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.
Residents with systems that request a response from law enforcement when their alarms are triggered are now required to register that system with the county.
“If you have one of those alarm systems in your house that’s just an alarm sound and it doesn’t call law enforcement dispatch, you don’t have to. record,” says Hudson. “But if [your alarm] go to a central department, and call our 911 center and ask for a law enforcement dispatch, if you want us to respond then you must have your alarm recorded.
The adopted ordinance is identical to the City of Omaha False Alarm Ordinance.
“That way, when Omaha City annexes an area, you don’t see any change in your services,” says Hudson.
The order only applies to intruder alarms – it has no impact on any fire, CO2 or other alarms you may have in your home.
The first call for recorded false alarm calls is free, but false alarm call numbers two and three will cost $100. After that, it jumps up to $250.
Hudson says the county sent out multiple press releases and public announcements about the ordinance change. They sent a letter to their supplier, CryWolf, who then informed registered alarm companies in the area of the change.
After that, the onus is on the alarm company to notify their customers of the ordinance, as the county does not know who in the county has an alarm system and who does not.
Admittedly, Hudson says it’s unclear if these companies take that step. Returning Elkhorn resident Rocky Kelly says that’s exactly what happened to her.
“Last Tuesday, I got a call from my security system that my back door had set off an alarm. Well, I knew I had locked it,” Kelly says.
She moved into her new home in September, after the order took effect.
“They say, ‘Hey, we’ve got this alarm, we’re going to send the police,’ and I say please do it because I’m not here, nobody else is home, please send them.”
But within five minutes, she receives another call from her security system.
“They say, ‘hey, they’re not coming because they said you’re not registered with Douglas County, and I said well, what does that mean?’
Luckily, it was a false alarm, but Rocky says her security company rep didn’t have the information she needed, and neither did the Omaha police rep.
Rocky tells 6 News that she felt let down by her company for not telling her about the registration requirement when she moved into his house.
She was also frustrated that the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office had not responded and said they could have at least asked her when her system was installed. She got in touch with Chief Deputy Wayne Hudson, who she says took her concern and confusion very seriously.
Hudson says if the sheriff’s office notices a pattern of some businesses not telling residents about the registration requirement, they will contact the business and may file a complaint.
Rocky tells 6 News that she’s sharing her story to make sure others know about the new order, so they’re protected in a real emergency.
“To be told that no one is coming to your house, and that I had to go through my house on my own, and thank God my neighbors did it with me, I still have that night, I was nervous.”
For information on the stopped, click here.
To register your home anti-intrusion alarm system, click here.
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