After more than 22,000 false alarms from security systems, Gwinnett police shift approach

False security alarms are a big drain on police resources. In Gwinnett County, approximately 22,450 alarm calls last year, only 163 of which were true emergencies.

That’s .07% of the calls. Now, the county is changing its approach to try to bring that number down. 

"The impact could be great if we’re answering an alarm call that we believe to be a true alarm and there’s an emergency actually happening," said Hideshi Valle, Gwinnett County police spokesperson. "All officers handle these calls as if they were emergencies."

The county is implementing a service called CryWolf, which helps police track addresses with chronic false alarms. 

Chris Guven, who manages Guven’s Fine Jewelry near the Mall of Georgia, said his family relies on their state-of-the-art security system to keep the precious valuables in the store safe. 

"When we go home at night, it’s good to have peace of mind that everything’s going to be safe when we come back in the morning," Guven said. "False alarms happen quite often with internet issues."

Guven said it is not a fun call to get a call from the security company while he’s in bed.

"If it’s a middle-of-the-night kind of deal, it definitely freaks you out, stops your heart a little bit," Guven said.

Thankfully for the jeweler, which has done business in Gwinnett County in 38 years, the technology is at least making it easier to know right away if the alarm is legitimate or not. 

"Honestly with the apps on your phone, pulling it up gives you peace of mind instead of having to rush here in the middle of the night."

Valle said every address in the county with a security system is required to register with CryWolf. You can do so here:

Under county ordinance, there isn’t a fine for your first false alarm. The second, you’ll get hit with a $25 fine, $50 for the third, and $100 each time after. 

Guven said cops have shown up at the store three times. 

"I understand you’re taking them away from their jobs," Guven said, adding that he understands the need for the fines. "I agree with it. At a certain point, they got to start charging something."

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