Alarm Permits

  

Every residence or business operating an alarm system in Palo Alto must obtain an alarm permit from the Palo Alto Police Department.  To obtain your alarm permit, manage your account online, and learn more, expand the accordions below.

Background Information: Why Alarm Permits Are Required

The Palo Alto Police Department responded to approximately 2,672 alarms during 2015. Studies have consistently shown that 98 percent of the alarms to which police officers respond are false. The major cause of false alarms is user error (usually either opening or closing errors) and improper maintenance.

Each alarm response requires a minimum of two patrol officers and averages 20 minutes per officer, per alarm. This equates to 2,100 hours annually, which is equivalent to slightly more than one full-time police officer (at a cost in excess of $100,000 per year). These false alarms negatively influence the overall safety of the community, because they divert our officers from actual emergencies, proactive patrol efforts, and other legitimate calls for service.

Details on the Alarm Ordinance

In order to reduce the number of false alarms and create more time for police officers to respond to crimes and solve problems, the City of Palo Alto amended Chapter 4.39 of the Palo Alto Municipal Code, which regulates alarms within the city.

A key element of the alarm ordinance is the requirement that all alarm users must have an alarm permit. The alarm permit requires users to provide the Police Department with the names, addresses and phone numbers of three people who can respond to the premises of the activated alarm within 30 minutes if the need arises.

Every residence or business operating an alarm system in Palo Alto must obtain a permit from the Palo Alto Police Department. Currently, the fee for a new alarm permit is $55, and the annual fee for renewal is $41. The revenue generated from these permits is used to defray the costs of administering the ordinance.

The alarm ordinance encourages accountability and responsibility of the users by charging alarm owners for false alarms. We recognize that no alarm user is perfect, so to that end, two false alarms in a 12-month period (beginning with the first false alarm received) are allowed without a penalty assessed. However, after two false alarms, a progressive fee will be assessed up to and through the sixth false alarm. After the sixth false alarm, police will place the alarm on a non-response status for a specific period of time. A non-response status means that officers will not respond to any new alarms received. Alarm users may appeal revocations. Also, if officers respond to any alarm activation at a location that does not have an alarm permit, the property owner can incur a $250 penalty fine.

The City of Palo Alto defines a false alarm as "an alarm signal resulting in a response by the police department when an emergency does not exist." An alarm shall be presumed false if the responding officer(s) do not locate any evidence of an intrusion or of the commission of an unlawful act or emergency on the premises which might have caused the alarm to sound. Alarms caused by earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, or other acts of nature, are not considered to be false alarms.

Obtain Your Alarm Permit and Manage Your Account

In early 2021, in an effort to establish a more efficient and user-friendly alarm management program, the Police Department entered into a contract with CryWolf Services, a division of CentralSquare Technologies.  CryWolf Services helps to reduce the Police Department’s administrative efforts and offers an online portal for alarm users.  This new format allows residents and businesses to register alarm systems, pay fees, update user account information, and view all false alarm incidents from the comfort of their home or business.  Users are also able to find helpful tips and ideas on securing their home or business and how to prevent false alarms.

If you have any questions about the online portal, please contact CryWolf Services directly, Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at (855) 809-2062 or by emailing paloaltoca@alarm-billing.com.  Their website is www.crywolfservices.com/paloaltoca/.  Note that their website and the link below work best on a desktop or laptop computer, not a mobile device like a cell phone or tablet.

Obtain Your Alarm Permit and Manage Your Account Online!