Passed in April 2008 by the Amherst Town Meeting, fees are assessed to owners of property with repeated responses by the Amherst Police to false burglar alarms. The bylaw appears to be effective in encouraging community members to address faulty systems or internal procedures that cause false alarms. In 2013, the Amherst Police Department responded to 564 false alarm calls, which is a 14% decrease from 2008 when the bylaw was passed.
The False Alarm Fee Bylaw addresses burglar or intrusion alarms only and does not include fire alarms or medical alert systems. During each calendar year, a location is permitted three false burglar or intrusion alarms prior to a fine being assessed. Questions regarding the bylaw can be referred to the Amherst Police Records Office at 413-259-3016 or email@example.com. Information can also be found on our website at www.amherstpd.org. The bylaw in its entirety is below.
Amherst, Massachusetts General Bylaws
Any residence, school, municipal building or place of business which has an alarm system connected directly to the Police Department or connected indirectly to said Department through a private alarm company (each of which will be hereinafter referred to as a “monitored system”), shall be charged a fine for all responses by the Department to such buildings when the response is caused by: (1) the activation of the monitored system through mechanical failure, malfunction, improper installation, or negligence of the user of an alarm system or his employees or agents; or (2) the activation of the monitored system requesting, requiring or resulting in a response on the part of the Police Department when, in fact, there has been no unauthorized intrusion, robbery or burglary, or attempted threat. For the purposes of this bylaw, activation of a monitored system for the purposes of testing with prior approval by the Police Department, or by an act of God, including, but not limited to, power outages, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and similar weather or atmospheric disturbances shall not be deemed to be a false alarm. A fine for violation of this bylaw may be assessed against the owner or tenant of the residence or place of business. Penalties for violation of this bylaw shall be as follows, successive responses to be counted within any twelve month period:
First three responses Warning; Fourth response $ 50.00; Fifth response $ 75.00; Sixth response $100.00; Seventh response $150.00; Eighth and subsequent responses $200.00;
This section may be enforced pursuant to the noncriminal disposition method as contained in M.G.L. Chapter 40, Section 21D. Enforcing persons shall be police officers.