In 2013, the police department responded to 1,655 alarms. Of those responses, only three were actual emergencies. Studies have consistently shown that 99 percent of the alarms police respond to are false alarms. Causes of these alarms are usually user error, opening and closing errors, or equipment malfunctions. Each alarm response requires a minimum of two patrol officers and averages 20 minutes per officer per alarm. As you can see, false alarms negatively affect the overall safety of the community by diverting officers from actual emergencies and other legitimate calls for service. 

Rules and regulations

  • Alarm owners must obtain an alarm permit from the police department
  • Audible external alarm systems must reset within 30 minutes and stop sounding
  • Alarms must have a battery backup power supply to assure continued operation should a power outage occur and prevent false alarms
  • Alarm owners should know the procedure for canceling false alarms with their alarm companies
  • All alarm permit fees are final and non-refundable 

Alarm permits

In 2004, the City Council authorized the police department to require all residential and commercial alarm owners in Menlo Park to register for an alarm system permit. The alarm permit requires users to provide the police department with the names and phone numbers of up to three persons who can respond to the premises if the need arises. The alarm permit fee is $25 and is a one-time only fee. Owners will be provided with a numbered alarm permit to be displayed at the front entrance of the premise. Alarm applications are also available at the police department, the Neighborhood Service Center or by calling.

False alarms

The alarm ordinance encourages accountability and responsibility by charging alarm owners for false alarms. The fee for false alarms is currently $175 per incident for residential alarms. High-risk alarms, such as bank robbery alarms, are $350 per incident.