Town of Williamstown, MA
Berkshire County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted 5-18-2004 by the Annual Town Meeting, Art. 27. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Noise — See Ch. 40.

§ 8-1 Title and purpose.

A. 
This bylaw shall be known as the "Alarm System Bylaw."
B. 
The purposes of this bylaw are to reduce and eliminate false alarm dispatch requests, to encourage alarm users and alarm businesses to maintain the operational reliability of their alarm systems, to establish a system of regulations and fees with respect to alarm systems and to provide for penalties for violation of this bylaw.

§ 8-2 Definitions.

For the purposes of this bylaw, certain words and phrases shall be construed as set forth in this article, unless it is clear from the context that a different meaning is intended.
ALARM ADMINISTRATOR
The person designated to administer, control, and review alarm applications, permits, and alarm dispatch requests. The Chief of Police shall be the alarm administrator unless otherwise designated.
ALARM BUSINESS
The business, by an individual, partnership, corporation or other entity of selling, leasing, maintaining, servicing, repairing, altering, replacing, moving, installing or monitoring an alarm system in an alarm site.
ALARM DISPATCH REQUEST
A notification to the police that an alarm, either manual or automatic, has been activated at a particular alarm site.
ALARM SITE
A single premises or location served by an alarm system or systems. Each tenancy, if served by a separate alarm system in a multi-tenant building or complex, shall be considered a separate alarm site.
ALARM SYSTEM
A device or series of devices, including, but not limited to, systems interconnected with radio frequency signals, which are designed to discourage crime, by emitting or transmitting a remote or local audible, visual or electronic signal indicating an alarm condition. "Alarm system" does not include:
A. 
An alarm installed on a vehicle unless the vehicle is permanently located at site; or
B. 
An alarm designed to alert only the inhabitants of a premises that does not have a sound device which can be heard on the exterior of the alarm site.
ALARM USER
Any person, firm, partnership, corporation or other entity which uses an alarm system at its alarm site.
CHIEF
The Chief of Police of the Town or the Chief's authorized representative.
CONVERSION
The transaction or process by which one alarm business begins monitoring of an alarm system previously monitored by another alarm business.
FALSE ALARM DISPATCH
An alarm dispatch request to the police department, where responding officers find no evidence of a criminal offense or attempted criminal offense after having completed a timely investigation of the alarm site. An alarm dispatch request that is cancelled by the alarm business or the alarm user prior to the dispatch of the responding officer shall not be considered a false alarm dispatch.
PERSON
An individual, corporation, partnership, association, organization or other legal entity.
TAKEOVER
The transaction or process by which an alarm user takes over control of an existing alarm system that was previously controlled by another alarm user.
VERIFY
An attempt, by the alarm business, or its representative, to contact the alarm site by telephone or other electronic means, whether or not actual contact with a person is made, before requesting a police dispatch, in an attempt to avoid an unnecessary alarm dispatch request.

§ 8-3 Permit requirements.

A. 
No alarm user shall operate, or cause to be operated, an alarm system without a valid permit issued in accordance with this bylaw. A separate permit is required for each alarm site.
B. 
The annual fee for a permit or permit renewal for an alarm site shall be set by the Town Manager. An alarm user who applies for a new permit after July 1st will be required to pay a pro-rated quarterly fee. The annual fee will be refunded if the application is not approved. The permit shall be valid for a one-year period commencing each July 1. It is the responsibility of the alarm user to submit a renewal application prior to the permit expiration date. All fees and any future fee increases to this bylaw will be set by the Town Manager after consulting with the Alarm Administrator.
C. 
The annual fee for a permit or permit renewal for an alarm business shall be set by the Town Manager. The annual fee shall not be refunded or pro rated. The permit shall be valid for a one-year period commencing each July 1st. It is the responsibility of the alarm business to submit a renewal application prior to the permit expiration date.
D. 
No alarm business will sell, lease, maintain, service, repair, alter, replace, move, install or monitor an alarm system in an alarm site or request a response to an alarm site without a valid permit issued in accordance with this bylaw.
E. 
The application form for issuance or renewal of a permit shall be prescribed by the Alarm Administrator and shall include the following information:
(1) 
The name, address, and telephone number of the alarm user who will be the permit holder and be responsible for the proper maintenance and operation of the alarm system and the payment of fees assessed under this bylaw.
(2) 
Signed certification from the alarm user and the alarm business stating:
(a) 
The date of installation, conversion or takeover of the alarm system, whichever is applicable;
(b) 
The name, address, phone number, Massachusetts Alarm Installation License Number and the Massachusetts Department of Public Safety registration number of the alarm business performing the alarm system installation, conversion or alarm system takeover and responsible for providing repair service to the alarm system;
(c) 
The name, address, and phone number of the alarm business monitoring the alarm system if different from the installing alarm business;
(d) 
That a set of written operating instructions for the alarm system, including written guidelines on how to avoid false alarms, have been provided to the alarm user by the alarm business; and
(e) 
That the alarm business has trained the alarm user in proper use of the alarm system, including instructions on how to avoid false alarms.
(f) 
That the application shall contain the name, address and telephone number of at least two other persons who are authorized to respond to a signal transmitted by the alarm system within 20 minutes under normal weather conditions and who are authorized to open the premises on which the alarm system is installed.
(g) 
That such application contains an agreement from the alarm user in favor of the Town of Williamstown Police Department to break into and enter the registered premises forcibly without liability on the Town or its officers with respect to any such forcible breaking and entering, in order to respond to such an alarm.
(h) 
Any other information that enhances the efficiency of administrating this bylaw.
(3) 
That all current alarm users and alarm businesses shall submit applications and fees by July 1st immediately following the adoption of this bylaw.
(4) 
Any false statements of a material matter made by an applicant for the purpose of obtaining an alarm permit shall be sufficient cause for refusal to issue a permit.
(5) 
An alarm permit cannot be transferred to another person. If an alarmed property is sold or transferred to another, the application process for a new alarm user must be followed. An alarm user shall inform the Alarm Administrator of any change that alters any information listed on the permit application within five business days of such change.
F. 
An application for an alarm permit, submitted with the permit fee, shall be processed in a timely manner by the Alarm Administrator. The application shall be denied and the permit fee returned if the applicant has failed to pay any fine assessed for violating this bylaw, or if the applicant has had an alarm permit for the alarm site suspended or revoked and the violation causing the suspension or revocation has not been corrected, or if the alarm system does not comply with the standards required by this bylaw, or if the applicant has knowingly made any false, misleading or fraudulent statements of a material fact in the application for a permit.

§ 8-4 Alarm system operation and maintenance.

A. 
An alarm user shall:
(1) 
Maintain the alarm site and the alarm system in a manner that will minimize or eliminate false alarm dispatches;
(2) 
Respond or cause a representative to respond to the alarm site within 20 minutes under normal weather conditions who can provide access to the premises on which the private intrusion alarm device is installed, who can: allow officers access to the property to investigate, deactivate a malfunctioning alarm system and provide security for the alarm site;
(3) 
Not manually activate an alarm for any reason other than an occurrence of an event that the alarm system was intended to report.
(4) 
Not cause any alarm system to be connected directly to the Police Department by any means including an automatic dialer.
B. 
Alarm user shall adjust the mechanism or cause the mechanism to be adjusted so that an alarm signal audible on the exterior of an alarm site will sound for no longer than 15 minutes after being activated.
C. 
An alarm user shall maintain a set of written operating instructions for each alarm system at each alarm site in proximity to the alarm panel.
D. 
If the Alarm Administrator has reason to believe that an alarm system is not being used or maintained in a manner that ensures proper operation and suppresses false alarms, the Alarm Administrator may require a conference with the alarm user and the alarm business responsible for the repair of the alarm system to review the circumstances of each false alarm. The Alarm Administrator may also require the alarm user to attend alarm user's training that includes the importance of false alarm reduction.

§ 8-5 Monitoring procedures.

A. 
The Town of Williamstown will not act as an alarm business or permit installation of any alarm system monitoring devices within the police station. By July 1, 2004, all alarm systems except those owned by the Town of Williamstown or its subdivisions will be removed from the police station and monitored privately.
B. 
An alarm business performing monitoring services shall:
(1) 
Report alarm signals by using telephone numbers designated by the Alarm Administrator;
(2) 
Attempt to verify every alarm signal, except a hold up alarm activation, before requesting a police response to an alarm signal;
(3) 
Communicate alarm dispatch requests to the Town in a manner and form determined by the Alarm Administrator;
(4) 
Communicate verified cancellations of alarm dispatch requests to the Town in a manner and form determined by the Alarm Administrator;
(5) 
Maintain for a period of at least two years following a request for dispatch to an alarm site, records relating to the dispatch. Records must include the name, address and phone number of the alarm user, the alarm system zone(s) or point(s) activated, the time of request for police dispatch and evidence that an attempt to verify was made to the alarm site prior to the request for police dispatch, and provide the Alarm Administrator with copies of such records upon request.
C. 
The Alarm Administrator shall:
(1) 
Designate the manner, form and telephone numbers for the communication of alarm dispatch requests;
(2) 
Develop a procedure to accept verified cancellation of alarm dispatch requests;
(3) 
Promulgate such regulations as may be necessary or required to implement and enhance the intent of this bylaw.

§ 8-6 Fines and penalties for violations.

A. 
An alarm user shall be subject to fines, warnings, suspensions and/or revocation of permit depending on the number of false alarm dispatches emitted from an alarm system within a twelve-month period beginning July 1st each year, based upon the following schedule:
Number of False Alarm Dispatches
Action Taken
Fine
1
Warning
None
2
Warning
None
3
Suspension
$100
4
Warning of revocation
$100
5 and subsequent
Revocation
$300
B. 
Any person operating an alarm system or any alarm business operating without a permit issued in accordance with this bylaw shall be subject to an additional fine of $300 for each violation.
C. 
An alarm dispatch request caused by actual criminal offense, or with evidence of a criminal attempt, or resulting solely from power outages or extreme weather conditions shall not be counted as a false alarm dispatch.
D. 
The Alarm Administrator may reinstate a suspended permit upon receipt of acceptable evidence that the cause has been addressed and appropriate corrective action has been taken.
E. 
A person whose alarm permit has been revoked may be issued a new permit if the person:
(1) 
Submits an updated application and pays the permit fee;
(2) 
Pays, or otherwise resolves, all outstanding alarm fees and fines;
(3) 
Submits a certification from an alarm business stating that the alarm system has been inspected and repaired (if necessary) by the alarm business.
F. 
The Alarm Administrator may require an alarm system be equipped with a battery backup or other device so as to prevent the signaling of a private intrusion alarm in the event of an AC power failure.
G. 
Intentional causing of a false private intrusion alarm shall be considered a serious issue resulting in a fine of $300.
H. 
Any person who has neglected any fee or fine due as the result of this bylaw may have said fee or fines added to the Town of Williamstown municipal tax bill for the property where the alarm system involved is located.
I. 
An alarm user can appeal a false alarm determination to the Town Manager within 10 days of the actual event.

§ 8-7 Revocation, suspension or loss of alarm permit.

A. 
In addition to suspension or revocation pursuant to § 8-6, the Alarm Administrator may suspend or revoke an alarm permit if it is determined that:
(1) 
There is a false statement of a material matter in the application for a permit;
(2) 
The permit holder has failed to make timely payment of a fine previously assessed.
B. 
A person commits an offense if he operates an alarm system during the period in which his alarm permit is suspended or revoked.
C. 
Unless there is a separate indication that there is a crime in progress, the Chief of Police or officer-in-charge of the shift may refuse police response to an alarm dispatch request at an alarm site for which the alarm permit has been revoked.
D. 
If an alarm permit is reinstated pursuant to § 8-6E, the Alarm Administrator may revoke the alarm permit if it is determined that the alarm is installed improperly.

§ 8-8 Appeals.

A. 
If the Alarm Administrator denies the issuance or renewal of a permit, or suspends, or revokes a permit, he or she shall send written notice of such action and a statement of the right to an appeal to the alarm user and the alarm business. The alarm user may appeal the decision of the Alarm Administrator to the Town Manager by filing a written request for a review setting forth the reasons for the appeal within 10 days after receipt of the notice from the Alarm Administrator. An alarm business may submit the request for review on behalf of an alarm user. Filing a request for an appeal shall stay the action by the Alarm Administrator suspending or revoking a permit until the Town Manager has completed his review. If a request for an appeal is not made within the ten-day period, the action of the Alarm Administrator shall be final. The decision of the Town Manager on appeals shall be final.
B. 
The Town Manager shall conduct an appeal and consider the evidence by any interested person(s). The Town Manager will render a written decision within 30 days after the request for an appeal hearing is filed. The Town Manager may affirm, reverse, or modify the action of the Alarm Administrator. The decision of the Town Manager shall be final.

§ 8-9 Enforcement.

A. 
The Treasurer-Tax Collector, upon authorization by the Town Manager, shall institute civil proceedings to enforce the collection provisions of this bylaw.
B. 
Any police officer of the Town may utilize the noncriminal disposition procedure set forth in the Code of the Town of Williamstown[1] or may file an application for a criminal complaint with the Trial Court of the Commonwealth, District Court, Northern Berkshire Division, to enforce the provisions of this bylaw.
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 1, Art. II, Noncriminal Disposition.

§ 8-10 No assumption of liability or responsibility for alarm systems.

A. 
Notwithstanding the provisions of this article, the Town, its departments, officers, agents and employees, shall be under no obligation whatsoever concerning the adequacy, operation, or maintenance of any alarm system or alarm system monitoring facilities of private contractors or within the police station.

§ 8-11 General provisions.

A. 
Except as otherwise required by law, the information furnished and secured pursuant to this bylaw shall be confidential in character, shall not be subject to public inspection and shall be kept so that the contents thereof shall not be known except to persons charged with the administration of this bylaw.
B. 
Municipal departments of the Town of Williamstown are exempt from fees required by this bylaw.
C. 
The provisions of this bylaw are separable, and if any article, section or subsection, sentence, clause or phrase of this bylaw is for any reason held to be invalid or unconstitutional by the decision of any court of competent jurisdiction, such decision shall not affect the validity of the remaining portions of this bylaw.