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I-Team: Cleveland starts cracking down on false alarms

CLEVELAND-- The FOX 8 I-Team has found Cleveland City Council moving to enforce fines for false alarms that tie up police when they could be scrambling to your 911 calls. But we also found council only addressing half the problem, at least for now.

Cleveland Council on Monday took steps toward hiring a private company to help keep track of false alarms and collect fines for repeated false alarms at businesses. In Cleveland, businesses can be fined $130 for the third false alarm in a year and for each false call after that. However, this does not address false alarms from home security systems.

The I-Team has found, as of last month, Cleveland dispatchers had received nearly 30,000 false alarms. Those calls resulted in only 11 arrests. 98% of the alarm calls are false.

We found the McDonald’s on Carnegie topping the list of businesses with false alarms-- 158 there alone. Manager, Donna Finley, told us the restaurant has been having technical problems for some time. She said the alarm kept going off by itself. She added, "We had to get to the bottom of why it was doing that so we had to reset our alarm."

Staggering numbers of false alarms. Cleveland City Council has been talking about the problem for a year and a half. And several more months will pass before any businesses actually get fined. And even then, only businesses, not homeowners.

We went to City Council Public Safety Committee Chairman Matt Zone. This year, more than half of all false alarms have come from homes. So why are only businesses facing fines? Zone said, "We wanted to make sure that we did this right. The last thing we wanted to do was be punitive and have the community feel that we're targeting them unfairly.” He added, council will likely start going after homeowners , too, likely at the end of next year.

Some other local cities have their own programs for punishing chronic false alarm calls.