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Gary police looking at enforcing alarm ordinance

Updated: April 12, 2012 9:59AM



GARY — More than nine years ago, the City Council passed an ordinance designed to reduce the number of false residential alarms police receive.

To date, the ordinance has not been enforced.

Chief Wade Ingram issued a memo to patrol units last month saying that beginning Monday, March 12, officers could begin issuing citations when they respond to three false alarms in a 90-day period.

Unable to answer questions about where the fines would be deposited and how the money would be used, city officials announced last week a delay in enforcement.

Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson’s spokesperson Chelsea Whittington told the Post-Tribune, “The language is being tweaked for clarity along with the items you addressed in your questions.”

She said the city hopes to have it ready by March 31, but was couldn’t say whether the council would be presented with amendments.

In January 2003, the council passed the ordinance that would require inspections of residential and commercial alarms and fines when they activate too often without cause.

For years, Gary police have been challenged by a high volume of false alarms, especially during daylight hours.

At the time, police administrators and Fraternal Order of Police leaders said the calls take attention away from more important events.

For officer safety, police procedure requires two units to respond to the calls.

But the repetition also creates complacency, and prior administrations expressed concern that officers expecting a routine call could be surprised and unprepared by an intruder.

The ordinance as written would have fines placed in a non-reverting 911 fund, but the pending consolidation of emergency dispatch centers in Lake County complicates the matter.

Whittington said Ingram will be meeting with the city’s legal advisors and the city clerk to work out pending issues.

She said when that happens, she will also have answers to the Post-Tribune’s questions about the condition of computer equipment, headsets and office furniture in Gary’s communication center.

Police spokeswoman Cpl. Gabrielle King said the chief predicted the ordinance could be enforced in about a month.

Reach reporter Lori Caldwell at 648-3258



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