“In 2020 the Sheriff’s Office received more than 1,400 alarm calls; 800 of those incidents were found to be false alarms,” Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal said. “False alarms impact our ability to respond quickly to true emergencies, tying up deputy time and wasting limited resources. Alarm Permits and false alarm fees help to recoup some of those lost costs and motivate alarm owners to reduce and eliminate false alarms of their systems.”
Pursuant to Humboldt County Code Chapter 916, all persons with monitored alarm systems - any residential or business security system that requests law enforcement response with activation- are required to obtain an Alarm Permit for the system every two years.
Permitting requirements only apply to monitored alarm systems. Residents owning cameras or other security devices that are not monitored by a security company or trigger a law enforcement response upon activation are not mandated to obtain a permit under County Code Chapter 916.
Apply for an Alarm Permit
To apply for an Alarm Permit, residents should first download the Alarm Permit Application Form. The application should be completed and returned to the Sheriff’s Office Main Station with payment of the New Alarm Permit Fee ($50). Residents must apply for a permit prior to installing a monitored security system or be subject to a $200 fine. Permits must be renewed every two years for a renewal fee of $25.
Under the current approved fee schedule, residents with an Alarm Permit on file are granted two free false alarms per 12-month period. A third false alarm within that timeframe will subject the alarm owner to a $50 fine, with each subsequent false alarm fee increasing in cost, maxing out at $200 per false alarm for six or more false alarms in a 12-month period. Residents may also be subject to late penalties for failure to pay any of the above alarm fees.
Notice of Fees
2021 Fees for Alarm Permits
|Permit Renewal (biannually)||$25|
|Late Application Fee||$100|
|Permit Reinstatement Fee||$200|
|False Alarms||2 free per 12-month period|
|Third (3rd) False Alarm in 12-month period||$50|
|Fourth (4th) False Alarm in 12-month period||$100|
|Fifth (5th) False Alarm in 12-month period||$150|
|Sixth+ (6th+) False Alarm in 12-month period||$200|
|Alarm Business failure to notify customers||$50|
|Alarm Permit Violation - First Offense||$50|
|Alarm Permit Violation - Second Offense||$100|
|Alarm Permit Violation - Third Offense||$200|
|Alarm Permit Violation - Fourth Offense||Permit Revoked|
|Alarm Fees 30-day late payment penalty||$5|
|Alarm Fees 60-day late payment penalty||$10|
|Alarm Fees 90-day late payment penalty||$15|
|Failure to apply for a permit prior to installing an alarm.||$200|
False Alarm Appeal Process
Humboldt County False Alarm Ordinance, Chapter 6, defines a false alarm as: "An alarm signal that prompts a response by the Sheriff’s Department when an emergency does not exist."
If you would like to appeal a false alarm fee notice submit a written appeal to the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office. Return it to the office within twenty (20) business days after the assessment of false alarm fee, revocation, or suspension is issued. You may file an appeal by using the False Alarm Appeal Request Form or submit a written letter containing the following information:
- Your name, the alarm location, date(s) of the false alarm(s), your permit number.
- A description of the action taken to discover and eliminate the cause of the false alarm(s);
- The specific reason(s) if any, why the false alarm(s) should not be subject to an assessment.
Send your appeal request to:
Humboldt County Sheriff's Office
826 4th Street
Eureka, CA 95501
False Alarm Appeal Guidelines
Requests for appeal(s) must be filed within twenty (20) business days after the notice of the false alarm fee, revocation, or suspension is issued. All fields must be filled out, including a specific reason(s) (if any) why the false alarm(s)should not be subject to an assessment fee.
Appeals are NOT generally granted as a result of the following:
- An occurrence where there was no evidence of criminal or attempted criminal activity present, or there was not a hold-up in progress when the officer arrived on scene.
- Faulty, defective, or malfunctioning equipment.
- Improper installation or maintenance by the alarm business.
- Improper monitoring by the monitoring company.
- Mistake made by owners, family members, employees, private contractors, maids, cleaning crews, caretakers, maintenance employees, apartment management employees.
- Alarm activations which occur while alarm technicians are repairing or servicing the alarm system.
- Items within the home or business which move and cause motion detectors to activate, (i.e. curtains, signs, balloons, pets/rodents/wildlife, etc.).
- Glass breakage detectors which activate due to noise/sound other than actual glass breakage.
- Door and/or windows that are loose or become loose and cause a break in the contacts which activate the alarm.
- Interruption of electrical power supply due to weather, unless outage is more than (4) hours.
- Pets, rodents, or wildlife movement in or near the home business.
- Alarms caused by apartment management employees.
- How does the Sheriff’s Office find out I have an alarm?
There are currently no alarm systems directly connected to the Sheriff’s Office however, there are several different ways the Sheriff’s Office can be notified of a locations alarm system.
- Many alarm companies advise new clients that the Sheriff’s Office may require an alarm system operation permit and advise them to contact the Sheriff’s Office for details.
- Monitored alarm systems are maintained by your chosen alarm company. If an alarm is activated the monitoring company calls the Sheriff’s Office dispatch center with a request for service to the alarm location. The monitoring company then gives the dispatcher the alarm address, business or residence name and area of activation. The call is logged; officers are dispatched to the alarm location. Alarm companies do not supply the Sheriff’s Office with records of existing alarm owners, nor do they notify the police if an alarm has been disconnected.
- Dispatchers also receive calls from neighboring residents and business owners if an audible alarm is ringing. Officers are dispatched at that time.
- Officers on patrol sometimes hear audible alarms and respond to the location.
- What kind of alarm requires an alarm permit?
Permitting requirements only apply to monitored security systems. Residents owning cameras or other security devices that are not monitored by a security company or trigger a law enforcement response upon activation are not mandated to obtain a permit under County Code Chapter 916.
- What happens if I do not pay the permit fee?
If an annual permit is not paid the location is still monitored for false alarms. If a false alarm occurs the alarm owner is assessed a fine for each false alarm and is billed accordingly. If false alarm fines are not paid the charges are sent to collections.
- Will I be mailed a paper permit?
No. Humboldt County does not issue paper alarm user permits. You are issued a permit number and your permit information is kept in a computer database at the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office.
- When do I have to renew my permit?
Permit renewals occur every 2 years on the same date as the initial permit inception.
- Will I be notified when my renewal payment is due?
Yes. You will be sent a renewal notice by mail.
- What is a false alarm?
A false alarm is any alarm (silent or audible) that requires police response that turns out to be a non-emergency. This includes operator error and system mal functions. If Deputies arrive at a location that is locked and secured, no attempt of break-in is found, and no persons are on scene it is usually considered a false alarm. If natural forces like earthquake or severe winds is to blame for the false alarm, then it does not count as a chargeable false alarm. Deputies may also use discretion if there are other circumstances that should be considered to classify the false alarm as not chargeable.
- How many false alarms am I allowed with a paid permit?
Effective April 23rd, 2021; with a paid permit each location is permitted two non-invoiced false alarms each calendar year. Each additional alarm accrues an additional $50 fee; for example: 3rd false alarm $50.00. 4th false alarm $100.00, 5th false alarm $150.00, 6th false alarm $200.00. Please note if your alarm system has 6 or more false alarms within a 6-month period you may be subject to possible revocation of your permit.