False Alarm Program

Why does Seattle have a False Alarm Program?

  • Before the False Alarm program was created in 2004, the Seattle Police Department responded to an average of 25,000 alarm calls a year with over 97% of them being false.  With the program, we now respond to fewer than 11,000 false alarm calls a year.
  • Despite this reduction, responding to false alarms costs the City of Seattle an excess of one million dollars annually.  False alarm response also takes many needed patrol officers off the street each year to respond to the calls.

How does the False Alarm Program work?

  • Alarm companies are billed directly from the City of Seattle Finance and Administrative Division for use of police services including the alarm registration and false alarm fees.
  • Based on Seattle Municipal Code for alarms, the City has a relationship with the Alarm Companies, not the subscribers.
  • Per SMC 6.10.060 - Duty to inform subscribers of ordinance and billing policies.
  • The fee structure is not designed to generate a profit for the city, but to recover the costs of police dispatch and response. Calls canceled by the alarm company prior to police dispatch are not billed.
  • We require alarm companies to be licensed and used enhanced call verification prior to requesting police dispatch. We requiring physical evidence of a need for a police dispatch to consider an alarm call valid (an alarm signal, open doors, or open windows are not considered valid alarms).
  • We offer a waiver, once every 84 months for those that attend an alarm user workshop or switch to Private Guard Dispatch response.

Does SPD Respond to False Alarms?

  • Because of the high number of false alarms, and because of other demands, police response to alarm calls is a low priority and cannot be guaranteed.
  • Alarm users should contact their alarm company to discuss Private Security Guard Services dispatch. This can be a timelier method of getting a response to your burglar alarm and aids the police department by reducing false alarm dispatches. 
  • The Seattle Police Department will respond to any and all robbery/panic/duress alarms regardless of whether or not the alarm company is licensed.

Upcoming Workshops

  • Our free False Alarm Workshops are available for all residents and business owners. 
  • The workshops are helpful to attend before installing an alarm system, to help you avoid possible false alarms.
  • Attending a workshop is a way for a resident or business owner who had a false alarm receive a 'one-time' waiver from associated fees. 

2019 Workshop Dates: 

  • Tuesday, April 16
  • Tuesday, May 7
  • Tuesday, June 11

Workshop Location

  • Seattle Police Headquarters -  610 5th Avenue
  • Workshops begin at 7:00 PM 
  • Headquarters is a locked, secured building. No entry after 6:50 PM
  • No weapons are allowed in the building