Summit County Sheriff Dave Edmunds said the Sheriff's Office alarm response policy needs to change, though he won't know exactly how until the council determines the 2014 budget.
"We've talked about potentially charging people for alarm response," he told the Summit County Council Wednesday. "There's a variety of communities that do that. We're one of the very few communities that continue to respond to alarms without really any sanction at all for false alarms."
Edmunds estimates the Sheriff's Office spent about 2,000 hours responding to false alarms last year.
"It's not unusual for a deputy to respond to an alarm in a house not currently occupied, and the wind has blown a door open and there is snow drift in the front room," he added. "On occasion, we'll get a spider that has crawled in front of the motion detector inside the house. There are a variety of different reasons why they go off."
Alarms can take deputies a long time to get to, especially during the winter months, Edmunds said.
"Sometimes they are remote and sometimes there are snow-covered roads, so it can take an extended time to be able to confirm. And the deputies are really good about getting out of the car and doing a perimeter check," he said.
Some communities charge either alarm owners or the company $25 for the first false alarm, $50 for the second false alarm and up to $100 for the third false alarm.
"Sometimes they'll actually have to post a bond and maybe have to lay down a $100 bill and we'll say that for the first couple alarms, we'll take this bond from you," he said. "And if it goes more than that, we'll either have to get more money or we won't respond at all."
Edmunds added that $25 will not cover the response costs "by any stretch of the imagination," but said a fee will probably be a part of the solution.
"It's got to hurt a little bit. If it doesn't hurt a little bit, they will just continue doing what they are doing," he said.
The Sheriff's Office will continue to respond to all alarms through 2013, Edmunds said.
"But I think what we need to do is change the culture to have people take more responsibility for triggering those alarms," he said.