LONG BEACH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – The city of Long Beach is inundated with false alarms – more than 1,000 a year. Police officers, firemen and ambulances race to a home or business only to discover there is no emergency.
The burglar alarms are tripped accidentally.
Long Beach Police Commissioner Michael Tagney said his South Shore city of 35,000 is the first on Long Island to hire an outside firm to go door to door collecting fines that the city levies for false alarms.
“I’m proud that we are innovative and the first ones doing this. And I think many municipalities will follow suit,” Commissioner Tagney said.
Fees will begin at $100 per incident up to $700 for repeat offenders, CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reported.
“We inherited a tremendous fiscal crisis here in Long Beach, and one of the first things we noticed is that we have fees that go uncollected,” City Manager Jack Schnirman said.
Schnirman said his emergency response teams have been distracted by false alarms, hoax 911 calls and need to put public safety first. Many agree.
“If it’s not a real emergency, I believe that whoever called them should pay,” resident Tiffany Ford said.
The Texas company hired as bill collectors stands to make about 25 percent off each fine. Some locals said they don’t like any part of this plan.
“I think it shows how desperate the community is for collecting revenue, and turning it over to a collection agency is a little ridiculous,” business owner Steve Felix said.
“They have no reason to fine the person for the call. I am in long beach 52 years already, and I never heard anything like this,” homeowner Gladys Smith added.
Some residents also complained why not make the collectors local, putting some part-timers on the payroll? They also said the move is tantamount to giving outsiders from Texas thousands of dollars in commissions.
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