Federal judge dismisses SIAC lawsuit against Sandy Springs, Ga.

Dec. 21, 2018
Alarm industry, Metro Atlanta municipality remain at odds over alarm ordinance

More than a year after the City of Sandy Springs, Ga., and the alarm industry first butted heads over the city’s passage of an ordinance that would levy fines against alarm companies for false alarms rather than home and business owners, the battle between the two only continues to intensify.

Last week, a federal judge tossed a lawsuit filed earlier this year by the Georgia Electronic Life Safety & Systems Association (GELSSA) and the Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC), which claimed that the ordinance was unconstitutional.

In a statement sent to SecurityInfoWatch, SIAC Executive Director Stan Martin said that they were disappointed that the judge didn’t allow the suit to proceed to trial and that they are currently reviewing their legal options.

“Fortunately, the vast majority of 18,000 chiefs and sheriffs' we work with across the country understand the owners and operators of these systems bear the responsibility for improper use.  The model ordinance we promote ­­– created with the help of law enforcement and recently endorsed by International Association of Chiefs of Police and the National Sheriff’s Association – places these fines directly on the chronic abusers,” Martin said.

In fact, Martin said in areas where the model ordinance has been enacted that 85 percent of the permitted alarm sites do not require a law enforcement response or receive a fine in any given year and that the next roughly eight percent will only have one response.

“There is not any other alarm management solution that has proven to be more effective when it comes to public safety and protecting the citizens in any given community,” Martin added.

Merlin Guilbeau, CEO of the Electronic Security Association, echoed Martin’s disappointment with the ruling and said that they would be working closely with SIAC to determine their next course of action. 

Following the lawsuit’s filing, tensions between the two sides boiled over in April when Sandy Springs publicized the names of 39 different security and alarm service providers whose eligibility to request emergency personnel response in connection with activated intrusion (burglar) alarms systems within the city was revoked in a move that was designed to call out companies that initially refused to pay the fines imposed by the ordinance. That list has subsequently been removed the city’s website and many of the names that were on it are on the city’s current list of registered alarm companies.

In June, the city amended the ordinance again to require that companies verify intrusion alarm activations via audio, video or in-person prior to calling 911.