Beginning Sept. 1, Swain County Sheriff’s Office will have the authority to issue citations and fines for residents who have faulty alarm and security systems.
Swain County commissioners approved a False Alarm ordinance several months go to address the timely and costly problem of responding to vacant houses when a security alarm is set off. Sheriff Curtis Cochran told commissioners the excessive false alarms were a burden on the sheriff’s department’s limited resources. The department responded to more than 1,000 security alarm calls in 2014 and a majority of them were the result of faulty alarm systems.
The sheriff hopes the new ordinance will encourage part-time residents to update their security systems to prevent this problem in the future. Cochran assured commissioners his deputies would use common sense when enforcing the ordinance and take into consideration the elderly who may have problems working their systems. While he said warnings would be the first step, violators could be issued a $50 fine if deputies respond to a false alarm call at their home.
Residents can appeal a citation to the county manager and commissioners.
“About 150 letters have been sent out to people we know have these alarm systems — the same ones who have been called before,” said County Manager Kevin King.