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Resident suggests $65 a year fee for alarms
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Manteca resident Stephen Sangalang favors a $65 per year fee on each of the city’s 1,312 residential burglary alarms instead of having Manteca Police switch to verified responses to save manpower costs and free up officers.

The fee would generate $85,280 or just a couple hundred dollars more than the manpower cost Manteca Police invest in responding to 3,527 alarms annually of which 98.7 percent are the result of mechanical failure or owner error and not due to criminal activity.

The City Council Tuesday opted to delay action on a plan that would change the way the police handle alarm calls until industry representatives, Sangalang, and Police Chief Dave Bricker can sit down and see if the ordinance as proposed needs fine tuning.

You can – as the municipal law is now written – end up having the Manteca Police respond up to 24 times a year to false alarms at your business or home and not be charged a penny for tying up law enforcement services an average of 18 minutes per response.

The ordinance as written allows you two false alarm responses per month without being charged. The third, fourth and fifth responses within a month to a false alarm garner a $50 charge apiece. Bricker is now proposing that only two false alarms be allowed a year instead of per month.

And that could cost $700 for the third, fourth and fifth false alarms and revocation of the burglary alarm permit after that.

The third false alarm would result in a $100 charge, the fourth false alarm a $200 charge, and the fifth false alarm a $400 charge. After that, the police department would move to revoke the burglary alarm permit. If the alarm is used after the permit has been revoked, it would generate a $500 per alarm penalty.

The department also wants to charge for response to non-permitted alarms. There is no charge for not having an alarm permit today. Under the proposed changes, no alarm permit would result in a $200 charge. If the owner of the alarm fails to respond to a night-time or weekend commercial burglary, there will also be a $100 charge.

Each of those 3,527 alarm  calls took an average of 18 minutes of time to respond to the residence, check the structure, and contact the owner or responsible individual. Due to the nature of the calls, two officers are dispatched resulting in 36 minutes of manpower tied up per call. That resulted in 2,116 hours of officer time to respond to false alarms in 2008.

The lost time responding to false calls is the equivalent to a full-time officer. Bricker estimated the cost to the city of more than $80,000 a year.