[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Council of the Town of Westerly 8-13-1991 by Ch. No. 983 as §§ 8-101 through 8-115 of the 1991 Code (Ch. No. 1113, as amended through Ch. No. 1390). Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
The purpose of this chapter is to set standards for the use of alarm systems in the Town, to protect the police and other emergency services from misuse and to protect the health, welfare and safety of the general public. This chapter is intended to ease the potential of a police officer or citizen being injured during responses to false alarms and to promote the responsible use of alarm systems.
The provisions of this chapter shall apply to any person, business or corporation, other than the Town, who uses, operates or owns any alarm system that automatically summons the police or other emergency personnel in response to an alarm signal.
As used in this chapter, the following words, terms and phrases shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this section, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning:
- ALARM BUSINESS
- Any business that installs, maintains, monitors, alters, repairs, replaces or services alarm systems located within the Town.
- A. An assembly of equipment and devices or a single device designed to detect and signal an unauthorized intrusion, presence of a hazard or other type of emergency to which the police are expected to immediately respond. Included in the definition shall be burglar alarms, holdup alarms, and manual holdup alarms, as they are later defined in this section.
- B. Any device which, when activated, transmits a signal to police headquarters, transmits a signal to a person who relays the information to police headquarters or produces an audible or visible signal to which the Police Department is expected to respond.
- C. Fire alarm systems and alarm systems which monitor temperature, humidity or any other condition which is not related directly to an unauthorized intrusion are not included in this chapter. Also excluded from this chapter are systems which are used to signal a person within the premises in which the alarm system is located.
- ALARM USER
- The owner, occupant, lessee or agent of any premises in which an alarm is used or provided, who expressly accepts responsibility for an alarm device by registration pursuant to § 64-4 of this chapter shall be deemed the alarm user.
- AUDIBLE-VISIBLE ALARM (LOCAL ALARM)
- Any device designated for the protection of unauthorized entry on premises thereon, which device generates an external audible sound or flashing light, or both, when it is activated.
- AUTOMATIC DIAL ALARM
- A telephone device or attachment that mechanically or electronically solicits a telephone line to police headquarters and produces a prerecorded voice message to report a criminal act or other emergency requiring a police response.
- BURGLAR ALARM
- An alarm system which signals an entry or attempted entry into an area protected by the system.
- CENTRAL STATION
- An office to which remote alarm devices transmit signals where trained operators monitor those signals and relay the information to police headquarters.
- DIRECT LINE ALARM
- An alarm device which is connected to an alarm panel within the communications center of the Police Department via phone lines, which electronically activates a signal soliciting an emergency response by the Police Department.
- An occasion threatening the security of life and/or property, which reasonably calls for a response by the Police Department or Fire Department. A response due to failure of the alarm system or to personal error is not an emergency.
- HOLDUP ALARM
- An alarm signaling a robbery or attempted robbery.
- The individual(s) designated by the alarm user to respond to the premises of the alarm when notified by the Police Department.
- MANUAL HOLDUP ALARM
- An alarm system whose signal transmission is initiated by the person attacked or an observer or the action.
- POLICE CHIEF
- The Chief of Police of the Town of Westerly or his designated agent.
Each alarm user who plans to transmit signals to the Police Department, whether via a central station, a local alarm, an auto-dialer or a direct line, must register with the Police Department before doing so.
The alarm user shall complete an alarm registration form provided by the Police Department within five business days of the installation of a new alarm system, to include such information concerning the alarm device, location, keyholder(s), and other required and necessary information.
Alarm users shall register all existing unregistered alarm systems with the Police Department within 60 days after the effective date of this chapter (July 10, 1995).
There shall be an initial fee of $15 for each alarm registration received and shall not be prorated. It shall be the responsibility of the alarm user to ensure that alarm registrations are paid every 36 months and updated with the most current changes and information. Current registrations shall expire December 31, 2006 and shall be renewed every 36 months at a fee of $15. The Police Department must be notified in writing of all registration changes.
[Amended 12-27-2004 by Ch. No. 1521]
Alarm registrations so issued are nontransferable.
If a residential alarm user is over the age of 65 years, blind, deaf or physically handicapped to the extent that his or her mobility is substantially limited, is a primary resident of the residence, and no business is conducted in, upon or from such residence, an alarm registration shall be obtained from the Chief of Police without payment of the annual registration fee.
Effective upon passage, automatic dialer alarms will be allowed to dial the Police Department with the understanding that the dialer only activates twice at police headquarters and to a keyholder(s). They may be programmed to dial a central station or a twenty-four-hour answering service, which will notify the Police Department of the alarm signal.
The length of time for the delivery of the first emergency message shall not exceed one minute. The time lapse for the delivery of the second message shall be in the range from one to two minutes.
The content of the recorded message to be transmitted by such a device must be intelligible and in a format that is appropriate for the nature of the alarm.
No recorded message shall be delivered to the police headquarters more than twice as a result of a single stimulation or activation of the alarm sensory mechanism.
Unless required by law, no alarm device which produces an exterior audible signal shall be installed unless its operation is automatically restricted to a maximum of 15 minutes. It is unlawful for any person to use or cause to be used or to install a local or audible alarm system, which upon activation emits a sound similar to that emitted by sirens in use on emergency vehicles.
Effective immediately upon passage of this chapter, only financial institutions and other institutions required by federal or state statutes, rules or regulations, and by federal and state agencies to have the appropriate security devices installed, shall be permitted to connect directly to the communications center of the Police Department. All nonapplicable alarms connected prior to this enactment shall be disconnected by the alarm user or the respective alarm company no later than July 1, 1996.
No alarm system will be demonstrated or tested to merely determine the speed or type of a police response. An alarm user must notify police headquarters at least one hour prior to any service, test, repair, or adjustment of an alarm system. Likewise, the alarm user must notify the Police Department upon completion of such service and repairs.
All buildings with alarm devices shall be required to display the proper house/building number.
Where the structure is within 50 feet of the edge of the roadway, the number shall be displayed on the front of the structure in the vicinity of the front door or entryway.
Where the structure is over 50 feet from the edge of the roadway, the assigned number shall be displayed on the structure as well as on a post, fence, wall or mailbox at the property line adjacent to the walk or access road to the structure.
Numbers must be easily visible from the street and should be a minimum of 2 1/2 inches in height and displayed with a color which is contrasting to the background.
Any alarm system which has six or more false alarms within a calendar year shall be subject to a review of the alarm registration by the Chief of Police.
The Chief of Police or his designee shall notify the alarm user by United States mail of such a review and shall invite the alarm user to participate in such review. The alarm user may submit a report to the Chief of Police within five days of receipt of the notice describing actions taken or to be taken to eliminate the cause of the false alarms.
Alarm users of any alarm system or device are responsible, at all times, for the proper maintenance and use of their systems. Alarm users shall correct conditions resulting in a false alarm within 30 days of the occurrence.
The Chief of Police and/or the Municipal Court may revoke an alarm registration after failure of the alarm user to respond to the notice of review or for the violation of any provision within this chapter. The Police Department shall continue to respond to alarms at the revoked premises, and each such false alarm response shall be considered a violation of this chapter.
Nothing in this chapter shall be deemed to prohibit the installation and use of so-called smoke detectors or fire alarms, designed for internal use for the protection, safety and well-being of occupants at any building, installation or use of the same.
All statements and information relating to the installation and location of a system given to the Chief of Police or his designee shall be maintained in strict confidence and may be made public only when required in a prosecutive action resulting from a violation of any provision of this chapter or by order of a court of the appropriate jurisdiction.
All appeals for fines, penalties, reviews, and revocations shall be heard before the judge of the superior court. A timely appeal is considered to be within 10 days after notice of the fine, penalty, review or revocation and must be submitted in writing to the superior court and received no later than 10 days thereafter. Upon receipt of a timely appeal, a notice shall be sent to the Police Chief and the alarm user, providing the date and time of the hearing.
Notwithstanding the provisions of this chapter, the Town, its departments, officers, agents and employees shall be under no obligation whatsoever concerning the adequacy, operation or maintenance of any alarm device or of the alarm monitoring facilities. No liability whatsoever is assumed for the failure of alarm devices or monitoring facilities or for the failure to respond to alarms or for any mission in connection with such alarm devices. Each alarm user shall be deemed to hold and save harmless the Town, its departments, officers, agents and employees from liability in connection with the alarm user’s alarm.
Except as otherwise provided, any person, firm or corporation that violates any provision of this chapter may be summoned to appear before the Municipal Court and be subject to a penalty or fine not to exceed $100, enforceable by the Municipal Court.
Unless otherwise provided, any person, firm or corporation who performs or causes to be performed any of the following acts shall be subject to a penalty not to exceed $100 for each such act, payable to the Town:
Failure to register an alarm device or failure to give notice of changes in registration information, as required by this chapter.
Failure of a keyholder to respond to the premises of an alarm when summoned by a police official.
Failure to disconnect an alarm system upon suspension of the alarm registration by the Chief of Police.
Failure of an external audible siren or bell to reset or shut off after the maximum 15 minutes.
Police shall respond up to and including 10 alarms within a calendar year. For any subsequent police response, there shall be a fee of $10 for each response, enforceable by Municipal Court.