It’s safe to say that Salina Police Chief Brad Nelson doesn’t like to waste resources. Even more important, he doesn’t like pulling his personnel away from true emergencies to respond to false alarms.
So when Nelson was hired as chief, he began working to implement a false alarm ordinance for Salina.
“We really were wasting resources,” Nelson said of responding to false alarm calls.
Indeed, prior to the ordinance being implemented, 99 percent of the approximate 2,000 alarm calls the police department received each year were for false alarms, Nelson said. Since each alarm call requires two officers, the department spent more than 1,600 hours annually responding to false alarms, taking officers away from legitimate community needs and emergencies.
According to the ordinance, which was passed July 6, 2015, and went into effect in 2016, most false alarms were the result of improper maintenance or use of an alarm system. There was no incentive for people and businesses to fix the problems that triggered false alarms, Nelson said.
Having an ordinance with financial penalties fixed that. Alarm systems within the city limits are required to be registered annually. Nelson said that more than 800 alarms are now registered.
According to Nelson, one year after the implementation of the ordinance, two officer response calls decreased by 37 percent, and to date there has been a 48-percent reduction in false alarm calls. The reduction of approximately 958 (80/month) needless calls for service that did not result in a police response has freed up officers for proactive enforcement and/or community policing activities, Nelson said.