This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.
Keith McCord ReportingA Salt Lake City security alarm company is suing the police department. The police charged a Peak Alarm Company dispatcher for calling in a false alarm-- a case a judge threw out of court. But it's not over yet.
Park Alarm Services is a family owned and operated security company providing services for homes, businesses, and schools in several states. When dispatchers verify an alarm they contact authorities.
This whole thing began in June of 2003, when two people reportedly went inside West High school and set off some alarms.
Stephen Clark, Peak Alarm Attorney: "So, Jeff Howe the central station dispatcher for Peak Alarm immediately got on the phone with police and said hey we have employees at West High who have said they've got intruders here and it could be a dangerous situation."
When police responded to the high school the intruders were already gone.
Stephen Clark, Peak Alarm Attorney: “Subsequently Jeff Howe was charged with making a false alarm.”
Back in 2000 Salt Lake City enacted a law called a "No Response" ordinance, which basically stipulates that officers will not respond to a private alarm, unless the alarm is verified visually. The whole idea is to avoid wasted time spent on false alarm calls.
The misdemeanor charges could have resulted in a six-month jail sentence and a thousand dollar fine. A judge eventually dismissed the charges, but the case raises an interesting point.
Stephen Clark, Peak Alarm Attorney: "If every private security dispatcher is concerned every time she calls the police that she could end up in jail, just for making an honest mistake, that could have serious repercussions for public safety."
Attorney Stephen Clark says the company wants to recoup attorneys’ fees, but also generate cooperation between private security companies and law enforcement agencies. The Salt Lake City attorney’s office told Eyewitness News that it didn't have specifics of the latest lawsuit, and therefore could not comment.