Legalized Extortion?

I’m not sure what else I would call it.

He is also disappointed with what happened after he said he called Fort Worth police during an  overnight break-in at the business on West Berry Street that he was watching with remote surveillance cameras from his computer at home.

“They came back and said, ‘We can’t dispatch because we don’t have an updated alarm permit on file with you from the city, so we can’t send anybody,’” Reber said.

“They said the can’t come out because they didn’t have my $50 fee on file,” he said.

Fort Worth has a “verified alarm response program” which seems to be a fancy way of paying for police protection.

ALL permit holders are allowed three (3) false alarm calls, as well as two(2) panic/robbery calls before service fees are assessed.  If/when a customer exceeds three false alarms or 2 false, panic/robbery calls in a 12-month period, service fees are assessed according to the following schedule:

The following false alarm service fee structure went into effect November 1, 2005:
1-3 false alarm calls in 12 months  No charge
4-5 false alarm calls in 12 months  $50 each call
6-7 false alarm calls in 12 months  $75 each call
8 or more false alarm calls in 12 months $100 per call

You will be allowed 2 false, panic/robbery calls in a 12-month period before penalties apply.  After 2, a flat $60 fee will apply.
Reducing false alarm calls will improve overall public safety and service when there is a real emergency.  Officers will be able to respond to emergency calls more rapidly.

I can see fining people who phone in multiple false alarms or have their system set so they go off too often — but that should be after the fact; like a traffic ticket – break the law get a ticket.

Instead we have a department deciding not to respond to a crime in progress report because someone didn’t pony up the money up front….how is that not a legalized protection racket?

Please join the discussion.

 

 

11 Responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Cormac on 05.11.12 at 7:41 AM

    The first time I saw the “alarm permit” sticker on a window in (E)useless, I damn-near had a stroke…

    Every time I even try to express how I feel about this, all the words just transform into profanity on the way from my brain to my mouth.

  2. Posted by Bob S. on 05.11.12 at 7:41 AM

    Cormac,

    I know the feeling. I had to stop typing several times and remind myself I want to keep this a PG-13 blog.

    I just wonder how long it will take for people to wake up; to realize if we have to pay TAXES and PERMITS for police service then why not just stop paying both and hire a private contractor to provide both?

  3. Posted by RabidAlien on 05.11.12 at 7:41 AM

    Check out the wording in the Texas Castle Doctrine. It applies not only to your residence and vehicle, but to a private business as well. My boss got an alarm one morning, and beat the cops to the shop with his own gun. Perp was gone by then, but it is perfectly legal for a business owner to defend his own business. IIRC, he and the cops got into a discussion about the relative merits of their carry guns and his.

  4. Posted by Bob S. on 05.11.12 at 7:41 AM

    Rabid Alien,

    I fully support the Castle Doctrine in regards to protecting your business but this is off the charts. Having to post a fee to get the police to respond to an alarm, really?

    Most street cops that I know (and as membership secretary for a private range, I know a few) support concealed carry and more for people. It seems to be the political appointees that are against it.

  5. Posted by Divemedic on 05.11.12 at 7:41 AM

    The permit is to ensure that the alarm system is properly installed. To many unqualified installers are causing false alarms to skyrocket. The city I used to work for started a permit system because false alarms were outnumbering actual alarms by 10 to one. This delays service when units are tied up on false alarms.
    There were businesses that were causing 200 or 300 false alarms per month. Within a year, false alarms were reduced by almost 70%. I’m not sure of the legalities, but the city attorney said that we couldn’t fine businesses for false alarms without a permit system in place.

  6. Posted by Bob S. on 05.11.12 at 7:41 AM

    Divemedic,

    I understand the logic of reducing false alarms. I think that the code can be written (heck pay lawyers enough and they will find a way) to make it so a permit isn’t required but those causing false alarms can be fined.

    But to not respond to a report of a crime – not an alarm going off — but the business owner on the phone saying “this car is doing this” is ridiculous.

  7. Posted by ShallNOTBeInfringed on 05.11.12 at 7:41 AM

    “….Alright officer, I’m already armed and on my way there……” might have gotten a pretty rapid response.

  8. Posted by Weer'd Beard on 05.11.12 at 7:41 AM

    Around here (And Note we’re talking MASSACHUSETTS! Shame on you, Texas!) You pay for your alarm to be installed, and pay your alarm subscription. If there is a false alarm and the police need to come, then they charge you for wasting their time.

    We’ve had a few mishaps that involved the alarm going off accidentally, but we were home so the company made the safety call, and we gave our password and the call was cancelled.

    I’m 100% fine if all the safeguards breaking down I have to pay money for wasting the police’s time. There is no need for any other fees, taxes or inspections.

    If Divemedic’s statements are true, then the people with faulty systems would quickly go broke. Problem solved!

  9. Posted by Divemedic on 05.11.12 at 7:41 AM

    Weerd: remember that alarm permits are only required for businesses, not private homes.

  10. Posted by Bob S. on 05.11.12 at 7:41 AM

    Divemedic,

    At least in Fort Worth, permits are required for homes heck even apartments.

    Weerd,

    That type of system I can agree with – unless you have to pay the city or state for your alarm installation and subscription. I think part of the problem is people install alarms but don’t have them monitored. I’ve thought of that myself. I have neighbors that would investigate and/or call the police if they heard the alarm.

    Well, one neighbor would call to complain about the noise but they would still send the cops :)

  11. Posted by Cormac on 05.11.12 at 7:41 AM

    Euless also requires a permit for homes.
    …and apparently it has to be stuck to a visible window.

    Another layer of extortion; “pay us for your permit, or the bad guys will know you don’t have an alarm.”

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