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Continued: Big bills touch off debate on Minneapolis false-alarm fees

  • Article by: ALEJANDRA MATOS , Star Tribune
  • Last update: July 17, 2014 - 7:12 AM

“There’s more than one way to get the job done, ”said Cervantes, adding that Minneapolis should re-evaluate the fees if they’re becoming too burdensome for the community.

“We have to be willing to hear what people have to say,” he said.

Switching to a system similar to St. Paul’s would require Minneapolis to prepare and send annual billing statements, open and process the returned bills and process the payment, Wilson said. In other words, the costs to the city may outweigh the benefits.

“The cost of all that clerical processing can sometimes exceed the benefit when it relates to a fee as low as $27,” Wilson said.

The Minneapolis Police Department does not have a current estimate on how much the false alarms cost the department. The city said cases have so many variables that it isn’t possible to have a standard cost for the police response.

Wilson also thinks it’s unfair to make those who use their systems correctly to pay a fee. The city, he said, wants to focus on the repeat offenders.

Dozens of false alarms

Take Macy’s in downtown Minneapolis. Police responded to 53 false alarms since 2009 at the store, leading to a total of $39,920 in fees.

A Macy’s spokeswoman declined to comment, saying the company does not discuss its security procedures.

An Associated Bank branch in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood had $26,020 in fees from 46 false alarms.

“Associated is fully aware of false-alarm issues that have occurred over the past few years, and we have taken the necessary steps to improve our security alarm system,” said Nicole Koremenos, a bank spokeswoman. “Since implementing new tactics, false alarms have dramatically decreased.”

The Minneapolis public schools also racked up about $22,000 in fees. The district says it has about 70 buildings and uses a central communication center that vets alarms before police are requested.

“If staff see a broken window or open door and do not feel safe going in, then the situation is elevated and police are contacted,” said Stan Alleyne, chief communications officer for the district.

Some businesses or homeowners have so many false alarms that the city stops responding. The city did not release those names because it could put them in danger.

Stopping police response, Wilson said, is a “last resort.”


Alejandra Matos • 612-673-4028 Twitter: @amatos12

  • related content

  • Serendipity Road owner Will Determan, at left with Anna Nelson, said fines for three false alarms this year equal three days of sales.

  • Top False-Alarm Fines Since 2009

    * Excluding alarm users whose alarm response has been suspended

    53 false alarms: Macy’s, $39,920

    46 false alarms: Associated Bank, 1801 Riverside Av., $26,020

    36 false alarms: Dunbar Armored Express, $16,920

    34 false alarms: Sears Home Delivery/Distributor, $14,220

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