It may sound odd or counter-intuitive, but sometimes it’s productive to not ask for full payment. Cities are finding this out.
Recently, in Venice, California, the city has decided to allow citizens amnesty on certain fines and penalties. What they’ve decided is that the best course is to seek 60% of the fine for excessive false alarms. Rather than charging the full 100%, through the end of April, the city allowed citizens amnesty to pay their fines.
We’ve also seen some cities waive a fine if they can show the funds were applied to repairing or upgrading their alarm. When asked why they were so lenient, the answer was as simple as “having the system repaired was more important than collecting the fine.” Now that’s progressive thinking!
Amnesty is a thoughtful and useful solution for many reasons. First, for those recalcitrant in their payments, this gives them the opportunity to clean up their act. Pay the reduced amount, clear your name. That’s good for the individual or business, and minimizes their losses. The city recoups money it is owed, and reduces its future burden in tracking down violators.
This also publicizes the need to pay your false alarm fines. By taking this issue on, Venice Park serves notice that it is being fair to its citizens, but also that this needs to be understood by those who own alarm systems.
It’s no secret in our industry that one of the issues we face over and over in community after community is getting ordinances publicized and embracing best practices. It’s hard to get these messages across to those who use alarm systems, and we even face difficulties in getting these messages through to our own industry.
Beyond the kind message Venice is sending its citizens, it’s also serving notice that the alarm program is important and will be enforced. Enforcement is critical to ensure these programs work, and we salute the steps the city is making.