Hannibal PD deals with false alarms

After the Hannibal Police Department recently responded to what turned out to be a false security alarm, it decided to look at how many of these calls it receives.

Of the nearly 400 alarm calls the Police Department received in 2008 only 3 turned out to be legitimate.

KHQA's Jarod Wells talked to Captain Jim Hark of the Police Department about how these calls are handled and what kind of safety issues they bring up.

"I believe if businesses were aware of the type of responses that are generated when they have alarm calls they would work a little more in the training of their employees," said Hark.

Captain Hark says 10 officers responded to the most recent false alarm call. Many times those officers aren't just from local law enforcement agencies but also from state highway patrol and sheriff's departments. With different officers responding, a lot of safety issues come up.

"The safety concern we're looking at mostly is we have officers responding in emergency mode," said Hark. "They're going through traffic, they're driving above the posted speed limit with their lights and sirens on."

Hark says officers always exercise the greatest amount of caution as possible but there is always the chance someone may not see or hear them coming.

"In addition, there's always factors that most people don't understand and especially some of those institutes and businesses," said Hark. "When we receive an alarm call and we believe it to be an active call, we have to take measures to secure the perimeter."

If there are schools or hospitals surrounding a business or institute where a crime is taking place, those areas have to be secured to assure the suspect doesn't go there and take hostages. Hark also told me he fears these frequent false alarms will change the mindset of responding officers.

"If you have certain businesses that their alarms go off continuously and they're always false, than that is the mindset that a person will get," said Hark. "Then the one time that you really do need law enforcement and quick response we're fearful that the mindset will be 'oh its always a false alarm' and then maybe let their guard down."

Some cities fine businesses and institutes for frequent false alarms. Hark doesn't feel such fines are necessary. He says people just need to pay more attention.

"So what we're looking at is to instill into business owners and those who have security and alarm systems," said Hark, "take extra precautions, take measures to try and reduce the amount of false alarms. We understand mistakes are going to happen, but we feel that there's a large margin here that could be eliminated through additional training, upgrading of systems and just overall more diligence of how you handle your alarm procedures at your business."

Quincy is one of the cities that does fine businesses and institutes for false alarms. If the police or fire department responds to more than three false alarms in a 12 month period, that establishment will be fined. $30 for the 4th and 5th false alarm, and $60 for any others that may follow. False alarms brought on by severe weather, power outages and other natural causes do not count toward fines.