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Finding ways to reduce waste with false alarms

CHAMPAIGN -- False alarms are happening too often in Champaign and it's costing the city a lot of money.
CHAMPAIGN -- False alarms are happening too often in Champaign and it's costing the city a lot of money. Plans are moving forward to charge home and business owners more money, more frequently for false calls. WCIA-3's Gary Brode has the details.

In 2012, the city responded to about 2,500 alarm calls. Only 19 were for criminal activity. It's an alarming number and city officials would like to see it go down.

"We need to fix it."

Time and money is being wasted for the Champaign Police Department.

"Just over 99% of the burglar alarms we go to are false."

In the past year, Champaign collected $12,500 in false alarm fines and fees. Compare that the the more than $110,000 it costs to respond to all those calls.

"We want to actually reduce that number so we're not going to so many false alarms and we can address other calls in the city."

Champaign's alarm ordinance hasn't been changed since the 80's.

"Obviously a lot of things have changed since then. The city has gotten bigger. Technology has changed and the cost of services has increased as well, so we really need to take a look at how it's impacting our city."

Under the current ordinance, this is the breakdown of how much you would be charged for a false alarm. The new proposal doubles the fees and owners would be fined after four false alarms instead of seven.

Not only is the money an issue, but it's the amount of time officers are at those calls. In 2012, nearly 600 hours were spent on false alarms.

"If we're not busy, it's not a problem, but obviously if we've got a lot of calls, it's problematic."

The proposed plan would also raise the alarm registration fee from $10 to $50.

Urbana doesn't charge for false alarms, but that could change. The city has about 1,000 false alarms a year. The mayor is looking at creating an ordinance to combat the problem.

Danville put in an ordinance similar to the one Champaign is proposing. The public safety director there says the city has seen a significant decline in false alarms since then.
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