Ulster County, NY
 
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the County Legislature of the County of Ulster as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Adopted by L.L. No. 1-1994]

§ 145-1 Introduction.

A. 
This chapter is enacted to ensure that the 911 emergency number will not be jammed or seized by automatic dialing devices. To facilitate the response to automatic dialing devices, the County of Ulster has established a designated seven-digit number at the Emergency Communications Center for the purpose of receiving calls from such automatic dialing devices.
B. 
To ensure proper response to calls for services that are received by the Emergency Communications Center through automatic dialing devices, the following guidelines and procedures are promulgated pursuant to the authority of this article.

§ 145-2 Purpose.

The purpose of this article is threefold:
A. 
To regulate the connection of alarm systems with the 911 Emergency Communications Center to prevent the emergency number from being jammed or seized by automatic dialing devices or other such similar devices.
B. 
To regulate the automatic dialer's message content to ensure that the essential information is received to provide appropriate emergency response.
C. 
To regulate administrative matters relating to the operations of the 911 Emergency Communications Center to ensure the health, safety and general welfare of the residents of the County by regulating the use and application of alarm systems and by providing an alternate seven-digit number for the purpose of automatic dialer interconnect.

§ 145-3 Definitions.

As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
911 COORDINATOR
The County of Ulster Director of Emergency Communications/Emergency Management or his designated representative, hereinafter the "Coordinator."
[Amended 8-17-2010 by L.L. No. 3-2010]]
ALARM SYSTEM
Any assembly of equipment or device arranged to signal the presence of a hazard requiring urgent attention and to which police, fire or emergency medically related service agencies are expected to respond. "Alarm system" shall include an automatic dialing device.
ALARM USER
Any person on whose premises, located within the County of Ulster, an alarm system is owned, operated or maintained by such person or his agents, employees or servants.
AUTOMATIC DIALING DEVICE
A device which is connected to a telephone line and is programmed to access a predetermined emergency agency number and transmit by voice message or coded signal to an emergency agency an emergency message indicating a need for emergency response.
COUNTY
The County of Ulster, State of New York.
EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS CENTER
The central dispatching location provided by the County and the New York State Police or any of the other public safety answering points to receive all emergency calls on behalf of participating agencies.
PERSON
Any person, firm, partnership, association, corporation, company or organization of any kind.
PRIVATE ANSWERING POINT
Refers to a business which offers the service of receiving emergency signals from alarms and where emergency signals from alarm systems are monitored and thereafter relayed to an emergency agency.
SPECIAL TRUNK LINE
A designated telephone line(s) leading into the County's Emergency Communications Center and having the primary purpose of handling emergency signals or messages from automatic dialing devices.

§ 145-4 Automatic dialing devices; designated emergency number.

A. 
Effective May 1, 1994, all automatic dialing devices terminating at the Emergency Communications Center shall be programmed to access designated special trunk lines. The designated emergency telephone number is 338-2471. All automatic dialers accessing the 911 Emergency Communications Center shall be programmed to dial the above number.
B. 
All dialers must be registered with the Emergency Communications Center on the prescribed form.
[Amended 8-17-2010 by L.L. No. 3-2010]]
C. 
Dialers shall not be programmed to dial the number "911." All automatic dialing devices terminating at the Emergency Communications Center must be programmed to dial the designated seven-digit number authorized in Subsection A above.
D. 
Dialers shall not hold the telephone line open after the Emergency Communications Center has broken the telephone connection.
E. 
Dialers shall not dial the Emergency Communications Center more than twice as a result of a single activation.
F. 
Dialer message must be in the following format: "This is (name of household or business in the County) reporting a (robbery, burglary, police trouble, fire, water flow or emergency medical) alarm at (number, street name) (apartment or room number), (floor), (building name). The nearest intersection is (intersecting street) in (city, town or village). In case of fire or medical emergency, please send (municipality) (fire or ambulance)."

§ 145-5 Private answering points.

A. 
Alarm notifications which terminate at a private answering station or point and are then communicated to the Emergency Communications Center by an individual for appropriate dispatch response shall be permitted on the designated emergency telephone number. The calling party shall provide the Emergency Communications Center operator with the following information:
(1) 
Type of alarm activated (robbery, burglary, police trouble, fire, water flow, or emergency medical).
(2) 
Name of business or household.
(3) 
Street number and name.
(4) 
Apartment, room number or floor (if applicable).
(5) 
Building name.
(6) 
Nearest intersecting street.
(7) 
City, town or village.
(8) 
Any additional information as requested by the Emergency Communications Center operator.
(9) 
Agency to be dispatched for fire or ambulance.
B. 
The calling party shall promptly terminate the call upon transmission of the above information.

§ 145-6 Alarm testing.

The testing of automatic alarm dialers shall be permitted in accordance with the following procedures:
A. 
Business and residential alarms may be tested a maximum of four times per year. Such testing shall be conducted during the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Exceptions for frequency of tests and hours will be granted when an alarm is being tested as a result of alarm maintenance or repair.
B. 
Prior to the alarm test, the user must contact the County's 911 Emergency Communications Center to notify the Center of the test. The caller must provide his name, address, telephone number, and type of alarm. The telephone number to be used when requesting an alarm test is 338-2471 for a robbery, burglary or police trouble alarm and for a fire, water flow, or emergency medical alarm. If for any reason the alarm test cannot be conducted, the operator will advise the user and the test shall be rescheduled at a time which is designated by the 911 Emergency Communications Center operator.
C. 
Upon test completion, the user shall recall the 911 Emergency Communications Center by calling the administrative number and verify the alarm test. The caller must identify himself and advise the operator of the name of the business or household and request validation of the test.
D. 
The 911 Emergency Communications Center operator will monitor, test and evaluate clarity of message, tone and message completeness.

§ 145-7 Penalties for offenses.

A. 
Any person, business or firm programming an automatic dialing device to call the 911 emergency telephone number of the County of Ulster shall be liable for a civil penalty of $500.
B. 
In addition to the civil penalty, noncompliance with any of the procedures contained herein is a violation of § 145-4 of this article and punishable by a fine of not less than $500 and not more than $1,000 or by a term of imprisonment not to exceed 15 days, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
C. 
A police officer or deputy sheriff may order the alarm user to immediately disconnect any device not conforming to the provisions of this article from the 911 emergency number. The failure by such alarm user to obey such order shall be a violation punishable by a fine of not less than $500 and not more than $1,000 or by a term of imprisonment not to exceed 15 days, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
D. 
Additionally, the owner of such alarm system shall be liable for a civil penalty of $500 for the failure to obey such order.

§ 145-8 Right to refuse access to emergency number.

The Coordinator may refuse to permit any person, business or firm the right to program its automatic dialing device to access the designated special seven-digit number when the Coordinator has reason to believe that the use of the device would adversely impact the operations of the 911 Emergency Communications Center.

§ 145-9 Applicability; amendments.

These regulations shall pertain to all alarm systems which terminate at the 911 Emergency Communications Center. The 911 Coordinator may from time to time issue amendments, in writing, to these regulations. All regulations shall be issued with an effective date. It is the duty of all alarm users to keep advised of amendments to the existing procedures and make appropriate changes and/or modifications as required.
[Adopted 10-20-2015 by L.L. No. 13-2015]

§ 145-10 Title.

This article shall be known by and may be cited as the "False Alarm Reduction Act."

§ 145-11 Legislative findings.

The Ulster County Legislature hereby finds and declares that false alarms drain resources of the Ulster County Sheriff, police officers, and other first responders such as firefighters and emergency services workers. Each false alarm amounts to a waste of taxpayer money without any public safety benefit and otherwise imperils the rest of the public who may need actual assistance. The Ulster County Legislature hereby further finds it important and necessary to ensure that the alarms being called into the Ulster County Sheriff, police officers and other first responders such as firefighters and emergency services workers must have valid permits issued by the Ulster County Sheriff. For those reasons, and in furtherance of enhancing the public's health, safety, and general welfare, this article is enacted. Therefore, the alarm permit fees together with fines levied in accordance with this article shall be used to offset the administrative and operational expenses caused by the large number of responses by the Ulster County Sheriff, police officers and other first responders.

§ 145-12 Definitions.

As used in this article, the following terms shall have the following meanings:
ALARM SYSTEM
A device or series of devices, including but not limited to devices interconnected with a telephone and/or radio frequency method such as cellular or private radio signals, which emit or transmit a remote or local audible, visual or electronic signal indicating an alarm condition and intended to summon the law enforcement and/or fire protection and/or medical emergency service and/or emergency services which perform services in Ulster County or a municipality therein. "Alarm system" shall not include any personal alarm device nor any vehicle alarm device unless the vehicle is permanently located at a site where the device or devices constituting the alarm system are intended to summon emergency services to.
COUNTY
The County of Ulster.
COUNTY ATTORNEY
The Ulster County Attorney.
COMMISSIONER OF FINANCE
The Ulster County Commissioner of Finance as defined in the Ulster County Charter.
DISPATCHED
A verbal, electronic, or written communication to law enforcement or emergency services made through the Ulster County Sheriff's Office, 911, or local law enforcement dispatch and caused through an alarm system which actually causes a police officer, firefighter (paid or volunteer), ambulance corps volunteer or employee, rescue squad worker (paid or volunteer), or auxiliary member of any police or fire department or ambulance corps or rescue squad to physically leave the premises such person is at or change directions in their motor vehicle with the plan to respond (or actually responding) to what is determined to be a false alarm.
A. 
A need for prompt medical services; and/or
B. 
A need for prompt police services due to an impending or actually occurring trespass, break in, robbery; and/or
C. 
A circumstance perceived by a human witness or believed by a person based on his or her actual observation or the observation of another human reporting such human's personal, for anything described in Subsections A or B.
EMERGENCY SERVICES
A fire department, district, company, ambulance corps, or rescue squad.
FALSE ALARM
An automated action which emanates from an alarm system in a structure and causes a call or signal to come into an Ulster County Sheriff's Office, 911, or local law enforcement dispatch where a person therein contacts law enforcement or emergency services and dispatches law enforcement or emergency services to such structure (whether the law enforcement personnel or emergency services personnel actually arrive at such structure or not) without any actual emergency existing at that structure.
LAW ENFORCEMENT
The Ulster County Sheriff and the Deputies who work under the Sheriff, and members or officers of any city, town, or village police department, or the New York State Police. "Law enforcement" shall also include the dispatchers, civilian or otherwise, who answer the phones at any structure or portion thereof used by law enforcement to dispatch police officers or emergency services to potential emergencies.
MUNICIPALITY
Any city, town, or village wholly contained within the County of Ulster and Ulster County.
OWNER
The person, firm, partnership, association, or corporation which has legal title to the real property where the false alarm emanates from.
POLICE PHONE NUMBER
Emergency communications or any phone number designed to be answered by law enforcement or emergency services.
SHERIFF
The Ulster County Sheriff.
STATEMENT
A written invoice stating a fine. Such statement shall include a statement that the addressee or his or her attorney or a tenant of the addressee acting with the written (notarized) approval of the addressee may appeal the fine provided for in the invoice in the process authorized under law. Statements shall be served personally upon the addressee or may be served certified mail return receipt requested along with a copy sent first-class mail at the address of the property owner.
STRUCTURE
A physical improvement to real property which has an alarm in it placed there by or under the control of an owner or tenant of the structure.

§ 145-13 Exemptions.

The requirements of this article shall not apply to any Ulster County municipality that has enacted local false alarm reduction legislation.

§ 145-14 False alarms prohibited.

False alarms caused by an alarm system are prohibited. It is the responsibility of the property owner to ensure that their alarm system is properly licensed, in proper working order and does not cause a false alarm.

§ 145-15 Permit required; application; fee; transferability; false statements.

A. 
A person commits a violation if he or she operates or causes an alarm system to operate that results in a call to the Ulster County Sheriff, police officers, and other first responders such as firefighters and emergency services without a valid permit issued by the Ulster County Sheriff. A separate permit shall be required for each alarm system.
B. 
It shall be the responsibility of the alarm system installer at the time of installation or activation to submit an alarm permit application form together with the required fee(s) to the Ulster County Sheriff's Department on behalf of and at the expense of the user, unless the installer has confirmed that the user already holds a valid permit. It shall be the responsibility of the alarm company that monitors the alarm system to ensure, prior to commencing any such service contract, that there is a current alarm permit. Notwithstanding the provisions of this subdivision, the alarm system user shall be deemed the permit applicant and permit holder for purposes of this article.
C. 
Upon receipt of a completed permit application form the Ulster County Sheriff shall issue an alarm permit to an applicant unless the applicant has:
(1) 
Failed to pay any penalty assessed pursuant to this article; or
(2) 
Had an alarm permit revoked and the cause for such revocation has not been corrected at the time the permit application is received by the Ulster County Sheriff.
D. 
Every permit for an alarm system shall include the following information:
(1) 
The name, address and telephone number(s) of the person who shall be the permit holder responsible for the proper maintenance and operation of the alarm system and payment of fees and assessments pursuant to this title;
(2) 
For each alarm system located at the alarm site, the purpose of the alarm, to wit: burglary, robbery, personal hostage or panic;
(3) 
Street address and nearest cross street of the building in which the alarm system is housed.
E. 
Any false statements made by applicant in conjunction with the obtaining of an alarm permit shall be sufficient cause for the Sheriff to refuse to issue a permit.
F. 
An alarm permit holder shall advise the Ulster County Sheriff of any change in the information contained within the permit application.
G. 
An alarm permit may not be transferred to another person without the filing of a new permit application.
H. 
An alarm permit holder shall advise the alarm company that monitors the permit holder's alarm system of the Ulster County Sheriff Department's telephone number upon receiving the permit number from the Ulster County Sheriff.
I. 
The Ulster County Sheriff may revoke an alarm permit if it determines that:
(1) 
There is a false statement made in the application for a permit; or
(2) 
The permit holder has violated any provision of this article; or
(3) 
The permit holder has failed to make timely payments of any penalties or fees pursuant to this article; or
(4) 
The permit fee, if paid by the applicant by check, is dishonored; or
(5) 
There are five or more false alarms in a year and satisfactory documentation or repair of the alarm system has not been submitted.
J. 
A person whose alarm permit has been revoked may be issued a new permit if the person:
(1) 
Submits an updated permit application and pays a permit fee of $50; and
(2) 
Pays or otherwise disposes of all penalties issued to the person pursuant to this article; and
(3) 
Submits proof that the alarm system has been inspected and properly maintained.

§ 145-16 Penalties for offenses; payment and collection thereof.

A. 
Penalties for false alarms.
(1) 
When law enforcement or emergency services are dispatched to a false alarm, the owner of the real property law enforcement or emergency services was dispatched to shall be liable to a civil penalty in the following amount in any calendar year:
(a) 
For the first and second false alarm: $0.
(b) 
For the third false alarm: $50.
(c) 
For the fourth and each and every subsequent false alarm(s): $200.
(2) 
Civil penalties shall be made payable to the Ulster County Commissioner of Finance and deposited by him or her into a segregated fund as established in this law for the benefit of the Office of the Sheriff of Ulster County.
B. 
Penalties for operating an alarm system without a valid permit. When law enforcement or emergency services are dispatched to a false alarm and the alarm system is in operation without a valid permit, the owner of the real property in which the alarm system is situated shall be liable for a civil penalty in the following amount in any calendar year:
(1) 
Upon the first false alarm, a warning shall be issued to the homeowner and such homeowner shall have 14 days to obtain a permit.
(2) 
For the second false alarm: $100.
(3) 
For the third and each and every subsequent false alarm(s): $200.
C. 
Reporting of false alarm. When law enforcement employed by the County of Ulster is dispatched to what he or she ascertains to be a false alarm, such law enforcement employed by the County of Ulster shall, within 72 hours of being dispatched, report the same to his or her immediate supervisor in the Ulster County Sheriff's Office. Such supervisor shall enter such false alarm into a database to be maintained by the Ulster County Sheriff or his or her designee of reported false alarms. Such database shall contain the information required by the Sheriff. Law enforcement other than law enforcement employed by the County of Ulster or emergency service may also report the same to the Ulster County Sheriff's Office pursuant to any procedure established by the Sheriff of Ulster County and agreed upon by the Chief of Police, or if there be none, officer in charge of such police department of such city, town, or village. Such procedure shall be in writing and filed with the Sheriff of the County of Ulster and shall call for any report to be made to the Sheriff within 72 hours of the dispatch occurring. To the extent that an intermunicipal agreement is determined to be necessary to effectuate any purpose of this law, the Chairman of the Ulster County Legislature is hereby authorized to sign the same upon the approval by the County Attorney and Counsel to the County Legislature of such agreement or agreements or amendments thereto.
D. 
Upon the occurrence of the first false alarm, if the alarm system is operated without a valid permit, or a third false alarm, if the alarm system is operated with a valid permit, in a calendar year, the Sheriff shall cause a statement to be mailed to the property owner instructing the property owner to return the fine in the designated amount, made payable to the Ulster County Commissioner of Finance. Such statement from the Sheriff shall require the fine to be paid within 30 days of the date of the statement sent from the Sheriff. Such statement shall be mailed within 30 days by the Sheriff.
E. 
Appeal process. If the addressee of the statement desires to appeal the fine and/or revocation of permit, the fine and/or revocation of permit shall be stayed pending the appeal. The Appeal shall be made in writing to the Sheriff of Ulster County or an employee of the Ulster County Sheriff's office designated to hear such appeal or alternatively to an attorney appointed by the Sheriff with the consent of the Ulster County Attorney to hear such an appeal. Appeals may be in writing or by personal appearance within 30 days of the date of the statement sent from the Sheriff. Upon filing an appeal, the individual hearing the appeal (designated herein as the "hearing officer"), shall send written instructions to the property owner stating when the appeal shall be heard (either upon written submission or orally or both). The hearing officer shall render a decision on the appeal within 30 days and shall send such decision, which shall constitute a final determination pursuant to Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules, to the property owner where the structure was on which the false alarm emanated from. Thereafter, if the decision is that the fine and/or revocation of permit is upheld by the hearing officer, such fine shall be payable within 30 days of the decision of the hearing officer and such revocation of permit shall take effect immediately upon the decision of the hearing officer. An aggrieved party may institute a proceeding or action pursuant to the provisions of Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules to challenge such final determination by the hearing officer. If no appeal is taken, the mailing of the statement by the Sheriff or his or her representative shall constitute a final determination appealable pursuant to this law or otherwise pursuant to Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules.
F. 
Levy on tax bill. The Commissioner of Finance or any Ulster County employee authorized by him or her is authorized to levy on the County tax bill of any property owner any unpaid fine authorized and finally determined under this article.
G. 
Civil action. The County Attorney is authorized to commence a separate civil action to collect any fine authorized under this article.
H. 
Dedicated fund. Fines received or taxes paid as a result of this article shall be deposited by the Commissioner of Finance into a dedicated account and utilized by the Sheriff of Ulster County or the Director of Emergency Communications/Emergency Management subject to appropriation by the Ulster County Legislature pursuant to law.

§ 145-17 Governmental immunity; no special duty created.

Responding to or failing to respond to an alarm does not create any special duty by Ulster County; nor does it create any special duty by any municipality within Ulster County. Any and all liability and consequential damage resulting from either 1) responding or 2) the failure to respond to an alarm system signal is hereby disclaimed and governmental immunity is retained. Responses by law enforcement, fire department and/or medical emergency response may be based on factors such as availability of police, fire and/or medical emergency units, priority of calls, weather conditions, traffic conditions, emergency conditions and staffing levels. No duty to respond to an alarm is represented herein as being made or promised.

§ 145-18 Effective date.

The effective date of this article shall be on January 1, 2016.