[HISTORY: Adopted by the Annual Town Meeting of the Town of Chelmsford 10-21-1993 by Art. 10. Amendments noted where applicable.]
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- ALARM INSTALLATION
- The design, installation, repair, alteration and maintenance of systems designed to cause alarm to be sounded in the event of a burglary or robbery.
- ALARM USER
- Any person on whose premises an alarm system is maintained within the Town of Chelmsford, except for alarm systems on motor vehicles or proprietary alarm systems.
- ANSWERING SERVICE
- A telephone answering service which provides the service of receiving emergency signals from alarm systems and thereafter immediately relaying the message by live voice to the Chelmsford Police Department.
- CENTRAL ALARM STATION
- Any facility which is privately owned that owns or leases alarm systems and whose facility is staffed by employees who receive, record or validate alarm signals and relay the information of such signals to the Chelmsford Police Department by any means.
- DIAL ALARM
- An alarm system which automatically selects a telephone line connected to the Chelmsford Police Department and reproduces a prerecorded voice message or coded signal indicating the existence of an emergency situation that the alarm system is designed to detect.
- DIRECT ALARM
- Any alarm system which is directly connected to the alarm processing unit within the police monitoring facility.
- EMERGENCY ALARM SYSTEM
- An assembly of equipment and devices, or a single device, arranged to signal a hazard or intrusion requiring urgent attention and to which police are expected to respond. In this chapter, the term "emergency alarm system" shall include the terms "dial alarm," "direct alarm" and "local alarm," as those terms are herein defined. Fire alarm systems and alarm systems which monitor temperature, humidity and any other conditions not directly related to the detection of an unauthorized intrusion into a premises, robbery or attempted robbery at a premises are specifically excluded from the provisions of this chapter.
- A. The activation of an alarm system through mechanical failure, malfunction, improper installation or negligence of the user of an alarm system or of the user's employees or agents.
- B. Any signal or oral communication transmitted to the Police Department requesting, requiring or resulting in a response on the part of the Police Department when in fact there has been no unauthorized intrusion or attempted unauthorized intrusion into a premises and no attempted robbery at a premises. Excluded from this definition are activations of alarm systems caused by power outages, hurricanes, tornadoes or earthquakes or an alarm user who has no other means of eliciting an emergency response by the Police Department for valid emergency reasons.
- LOCAL ALARM
- Any alarm system which may or may not be connected to a central station or answering service which, when activated, causes an audible and/or visual signaling device at the premises within which the alarm system is installed.
- MANUAL ALARM
- Any alarm in which the activation of the alarm is initiated by the direct action of the alarm user or the user's agents or employees and which is installed to elicit a police response to a burglary, attempted burglary, robbery or attempted robbery.
- Written permission duly granted to an applicant by the town upon payment of the required fee.
- PERMIT YEAR
- A twelve-month period beginning January 1 and ending December 31 of each year.
- Any natural person, corporation, unincorporated association or other legal entity.
- POLICE ALARM ADMINISTRATOR
- An employee of the town whose responsibility is to coordinate the administration and documentation of alarm businesses and alarm systems as they relate to the effective enforcement of the provisions of this chapter.
- POLICE CHIEF
- The Chief of Police of the Town of Chelmsford or his or her designated representative.
- POLICE DEPARTMENT
- The Town of Chelmsford Police Department or any authorized agent thereof.
- PROPRIETARY SYSTEM
- All alarm systems sounding and/or recording alarm and supervisory signals at a control center located within the protected premises, the control center being under the supervision of the proprietor of the protected premises or the proprietor's employees or agents. If a proprietary alarm system includes a signal line connected directly or by means of a dialing device to a central station or answering service, it thereby becomes an emergency alarm system as defined in this chapter.
- PUBLIC NUISANCE
- Anything which annoys, injures or endangers the comfort, repose, health or safety of any persons or any community or neighborhood.
- The Town of Chelmsford, Massachusetts.
Within 90 days from the effective date of this chapter, every alarm user shall make application for a permit which shall be required to maintain and/or operate an emergency alarm system within the Town of Chelmsford.
The Chief of Police is hereby authorized to issue a permit to any owner of property located within the Town of Chelmsford, or the lesser thereof, to maintain, install and modify an alarm system upon application to the Chief of Police and subject to the following provisions:
The alarm user applying for the permit shall provide to the Chief of Police the name, address and current telephone number of at least two persons for one-family residences and three persons for all other property who will be available at all times for the purpose of responding to alarms by personally appearing at the building protected following an alarm of any kind.
The Chief of Police, upon application to him or her for a permit, shall, in his or her sound judgment, determine whether the application conforms to the requirements of this chapter and that the facts stated therein are true and accurate, and the Chief of Police may cause such system to be inspected to determine whether such system is reasonably operational.
All information obtained pursuant to this chapter shall be kept confidential and shall be for the use of the Police Communications Center and the Police Alarm Administrator.
It shall be the responsibility of the permit holder to keep all information necessary for proper notification, with the Police Communications Center/Police Alarm Administrator, current and up-to-date.
A residential permit shall include all private dwellings, individual apartments or condominium units occupied primarily by the applicant for which the applicant will pay to the Town of Chelmsford a permit fee set pursuant to MGL c. 40, § 22F. The effective date will be January 1, 1994. Said effective date does not exempt the payment of said fee for previously installed systems.
[Amended 10-17-2005 ATM by Art. 15]
A commercial permit shall include all businesses, corporations or unincorporated associations for which the applicant will pay to the Town of Chelmsford a permit fee set pursuant to MGL c. 40, § 22F.
[Amended 10-17-2005 ATM by Art. 15]
All federal, state, county or local government agencies who operate alarm systems shall be exempt from all permit fees and service charges but shall comply with all other requirements of this chapter and with all requests of the Chief of Police as shall concern the operation of their alarm systems.
All persons 65 years of age or older who are the principal occupants of the private residence listed on the application shall also be exempt from all permit fees but shall comply with all other requirements of this chapter.
Applications for the renewal of an alarm user's permit shall be made every year within 30 days immediately preceding January 1 and shall be accompanied by a nonrefundable fee set pursuant to MGL c. 40, § 22F for each application in behalf of a residential building and set pursuant to MGL c. 40, § 22F for each application in behalf of a nonresidential building.
[Amended 10-17-2005 ATM by Art. 15]
A late charge set pursuant to MGL c. 40, § 22F will be charged in addition to the fees provided above to an alarm user who is more than 60 days delinquent in renewing a permit.
[Amended 10-17-2005 ATM by Art. 15]
All alarm users to whom a permit has been issued shall keep the permit within the protected premises for which the permit was issued.
Any alarm permit issued under this chapter shall be made available for inspection, suspension or revocation purposes upon the demand of any authorized Chelmsford police officer.
Failure to comply with any of the provisions of this chapter may constitute grounds for the Chief of Police to deny the issuance of a permit or suspend/revoke an existing permit.
No alarm system designed to transmit emergency messages through relay to the Police Department shall be worked on, tested or demonstrated without notifying and obtaining permission from the Police Chief. Permission is not required to test or demonstrate alarm devices not transmitting emergency messages through relay to the Police Department. An unauthorized test constitutes a false alarm.
If in the event of any alarm the Police Communications Center is unable to notify any listed representative of the alarm user or if a representative of the alarm user fails to appear at the building protected within 30 minutes after notification, the Police Communications Center shall not respond to any further alarms from that system until the alarm is reset by the alarm user or, in the case of a defective alarm system, until the alarm system has been repaired. Whenever a representative of an alarm user fails to appear at the building protected following an alarm within 30 minutes after being notified by the Police Communications Center, the alarm user shall pay a charge set pursuant to MGL c. 40, § 22F in addition to any service charge assessed for every such event to the Town of Chelmsford. Violation of the provisions of this subsection is sufficient cause for suspension/revocation of the emergency alarm system permit required by § 5-2 of this chapter.
[Amended 10-17-2005 ATM by Art. 15]
Service charges and fees.
Any user of an alarm system which transmits false alarms requiring a response from the Chelmsford Police Department shall be assessed a service charge set by the Chief of Police pursuant to MGL c. 40, § 22F for each false alarm in excess of three occurring within a thirty-day period.
[Amended 10-17-2005 ATM by Art. 15]
All service charges assessed hereunder shall be paid through the Police Alarm Administrator to the Town of Chelmsford Treasurer-Collector for deposit into the general fund. Upon failure of an alarm user to pay the assigned service charge within 30 days, a five-dollar late fee shall be assessed and the total amount shall be payable within 15 days. Failure to remit payment due within a total of 45 days from original notice shall result in the Chief of Police ordering the permit (for the premises recording the false alarm) revoked. Any such revocation shall be effectuated within 10 days from the date of mailing of the Police Chief's order.
[Amended 10-21-1999 ATM by Art. 31]
After the Police Department has recorded three separate false alarms within a calendar year from a particular alarm system, the Police Chief shall notify the alarm user, in writing, of such fact and require said alarm user to submit, within 10 days after receipt of said notice, a report describing efforts to discover and eliminate the cause(s) of the false alarms. If the alarm user, on the basis of absence from the town or on any other reasonable basis, requests an extension of time for filing the report, the Police Chief may extend the ten-day period for a reasonable time. If said alarm user fails to submit such a report within 10 days or within any such extended period, the Police Chief may order the alarm permit (for the premises recording the three false alarms) suspended until the alarm system is made to function properly. Any such order of suspension shall be preceded by a written notice of intent to the alarm user by the Police Chief. Any such suspension shall be effectuated 10 days from the date of mailing of the Police Chief's notice if no hearing is requested.
In the event that the Police Chief determines that a report submitted is unsatisfactory or the alarm user has failed to show by the report that the alarm user has taken or will take reasonable steps to eliminate or reduce false alarms, then the Police Chief shall order the alarm permit (for the premises recording the three false alarms) suspended until the alarm system is made to function properly. Any such order of suspension shall be preceded by a written notice of intent to the alarm user by the Police Chief. Any such suspension shall be effectuated within 10 days from the date of mailing of the Chief's order.
In the event that the Police Department records five false alarms within a calendar year from a particular alarm system, the Police Chief may order the permit for said alarm system to be suspended for a period of not less than six months from the date the alarm system is disconnected. Any such order of suspension shall be preceded by a written notice of intent to the alarm user by the Police Chief. Any such suspension shall be effectuated within 10 days from the date of mailing of the Police Chief's order.
Upon receipt of a notice of intent to revoke or suspend an alarm user's permit pursuant to this chapter, the alarm user may, within five days of such receipt, submit a written request for a hearing before the Chief of Police or his or her designee setting forth the reasons why the permit should not be revoked or suspended.
At the hearing before the Chief of Police or his or her designee, the holder of the permit shall have the right to present evidence, to cross-examine witnesses and to be represented by counsel. Such a hearing shall be informal and shall not be subject to the rules of evidence or formal courtroom procedure. After the hearing, the Chief of Police or his or her designee may either issue an order of revocation, withdraw the notice of revocation or suspend the permit until such time that he or she is satisfied that the cause (or causes) of the false alarms has (or have) been eliminated.
Any alarm user who has, in accordance with this section, had his or her alarm permit revoked/suspended by the Police Chief may appeal the order of revocation/suspension to the Board of Selectmen. An appeal shall be filed within five days of the date of the order of revocation/suspension. Thereafter, the Board shall consider the merits of the appeal and in connection therewith shall hear evidence presented by all parties concerned. After hearing such evidence the Board may affirm, vacate or modify the order of revocation/suspension.
An alarm user whose permit has been revoked is not precluded under this chapter from applying for a new permit. The Chief of Police will not issue a new permit unless he or she is satisfied that the user's system has been properly serviced and its deficiencies corrected. The Chief of Police may also impose reasonable restrictions and conditions upon the user before issuing a new permit. (These restrictions and/or conditions shall appear on the permit and shall provide for automatic revocation on the occurrence of two false alarms in the remaining permit year.)
[Amended 10-21-1999 ATM by Art. 33]
Any alarm user, central station, answering service or proprietary system who or which does not possesses an alarm user's permit or whose permit has been suspended, revoked or denied who or which transmits by any means to the Chelmsford Police Department an alarm signal from his, her or its respective system shall be charged a service fee set pursuant to MGL c. 40, § 22F for each signal eliciting a response from the police. This service fee shall be separate from any fines which may be assessed by the court upon a finding of a violation of this chapter.
[Amended 10-17-2005 ATM by Art. 15]
Any alarm user, owner or lessee who possess an alarm user's permit may appeal false alarm service charges in writing to the Chief of Police within 10 days after receipt of the notice of penalty.
The Chief of Police or his or her designee may waive assessment of the service charge when, in his or her judgment, reasonable attempts are being taken to discover and eliminate the cause of the false alarm.
All alarm systems as defined in this chapter which make or sound an audible signal which may be heard outside of the protected premises shall be equipped with a device which shall limit the duration of such audible signal to not more than 20 minutes.
Any alarm system emitting a continuous and uninterrupted audible signal for more than 20 minutes between 7:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. which cannot be shut off, reset or otherwise curtailed due to the absence or unavailability of the alarm user or those persons designated by the alarm user and which disturbs the peace, comfort or repose of a community, a neighborhood or inhabitants of the area where the alarm system is located shall constitute a public nuisance. Upon receiving complaints regarding such a continuous and uninterrupted audible signal, the Police Communications Center shall endeavor to contact the alarm user or members of the alarm user's family or those persons designated by the alarm user in an effort to abate the nuisance. The Police Chief shall cause to be recorded the names and addresses of all complainants and the time each complaint was made.
In the event that the Police Chief is unable to contact the alarm user or members of the alarm user's family or those persons designated by the alarm user or if the aforesaid persons cannot or will not curtail the audible signal being emitted by the alarm system, and if the Police Chief is otherwise unable to abate the nuisance, the Police Chief may direct a police officer or a fire fighter or a qualified alarm technician to enter upon the property outside the home or building in which the alarm system is located and take any reasonable action necessary to abate the nuisance.
If entry upon property outside the home or building in which the alarm system is located is made in accordance with this section, the person so entering upon such property shall be considered lawfully present but may not conduct any search, seizure, inspection or investigation while he or she is upon the property and shall not cause any unnecessary damage to the alarm system or to any part of the home or building and shall leave the property immediately after the audible signal has ceased. After an entry upon property has been made in accordance with this section, the Police Chief shall have the property secured, if necessary. The reasonable costs and expenses of abating a nuisance in accordance with this section may be assessed to the alarm user, said assessment not to exceed expenses incurred by the town.
Within 10 days after abatement of a nuisance in accordance with this section, the alarm user may request a hearing before the Chief of Police and may present evidence showing that the signal emitted by the user's alarm system was not a public nuisance at the time of the abatement; that unnecessary damage was caused to the user's property in the course of the abatement; that the costs of the abatement should not be assessed to the user; or that the requirements of this section were not fulfilled. The Chief shall hear all interested parties and may, in his or her discretion, reimburse the alarm user for the repairs to the user's property necessitated by the abatement or excuse the alarm user from paying the costs of the abatement.
The Chief of Police shall establish a written procedure for the administration and enforcement of the provisions of this chapter.
In January of each year the Chief of Police shall submit a report to the Town Manager regarding the effectiveness of this chapter and any recommendations thereon.
The Police Department of the Town of Chelmsford shall take every reasonable precaution to assure that the alarm signals and alarm messages received by the Police Department are given appropriate attention and are acted upon with dispatch. Nevertheless, the Police Department shall not be liable for any defects in the operation of alarm devices, for any failure or neglect to respond appropriately upon receipt of an alarm from such source nor for the failure or neglect of any person or in connection with the installation and operation of alarm systems or their components, the transmission of alarm signals and prerecorded messages or the relaying of such signals and messages. In the event that the Police Department finds it necessary to disconnect an alarm device after exhausting all other provisions of this chapter, the Police Department shall incur no liability by such action.
Dial alarms and direct alarms are not allowed.
It shall be unlawful for any person or alarm user to maintain or operate an alarm system, as defined by the terms of this chapter, without first obtaining a permit as provided.
Any person or alarm user who does maintain or operate an alarm system without a permit shall be guilty of a violation and, upon conviction, shall be fined not less than $50.
Any alarm user who, after having a permit suspended/revoked and after exhausting his or her right to a hearing, fails to disconnect the alarm system shall be guilty of a violation and, upon conviction, shall be fined not less than $100.