Rock Hill, S.C. Stiffens Penalties for False Alarms

Steeper fines are likely to help reduce the number of false alarms in Rock Hill. That, in turn, should reduce the amount of time local police waste answering them.  

The changes are designed to counteract a growing problem. Last year, officers responded to 5,359 alarms at homes an businesses, an average of approximately 15 a day. Only about 50 of those alarms turned out to be real emergencies. And police predict that false alarms will increase by hundreds over the next two years as the city grows.  

Increasing the fines is a reasonable approach. If nothing else, it should get people's attention and make them more careful about monitoring their alarm systems.  

Police also don't intend to fine residents when the false alarm is not actually their fault. Exceptions will be made for alarms resulting from accidents such as power outages and lightning strikes.  

Tougher fines have helped in other cities, and we hope they work in Rock Hill, too. Police need to keep careful records and review the results of the new policy  to see if the tougher policy is a deterrent.  

If the new policy doesn't reduce the rate of false alarms, the city might have to consider jacking up the fines again.