Phoenix man questions $192 bill from police

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- For Alex Brown and his children, their Glendale apartment is home.

"Well, I live in Glendale now. It's a two-bedroom apartment," Brown said.

He decided to move his family there because the house that he used to own was located in a South Phoenix neighborhood where crime was increasing.

"I sold the house and moved away because I just didn't feel safe there anymore," Brown said.

Before selling and moving, Brown claims someone actually tried breaking into his house and set off his security system.

"The alarm company called me and said, 'Your alarm went off. It was the motion detector in one of the window sensors. We notified Phoenix police and they should be on their way," Brown said he was told.

Brown said he rushed home and after looking around, he discovered nearly $1,000 worth of items were stolen from his shed in the backyard.

"I had to file an insurance report," Brown explains. I've had to file a claim because of the losses I've had."

And, unfortunately, Brown claims his burglar alarm was triggered days later, but this time nothing was taken.
However, he said he wound up getting a bill from the city of Phoenix for two separate $96 charges totaling $192.

Brown said he was told the charges were for Phoenix police responding to two false burglar alarms.

"It's unbelievable," he said. "I couldn't believe it. I really couldn't."

Brown thought there was a mistake and when he couldn't resolve the issue on his own, he contacted 3 On Your Side.

We sat down with Phoenix police Officer James Holmes, who claims the charges are valid and simple to explain.

"He (Brown) had two separate fines for two different things," Holmes said.

The first $96 charge wasn't for a false alarm at all, according to Holmes. It was because Brown did not have a permit for his home security system. According to Phoenix's website, a permit is in fact required.

As for the second $96 charge, that was for a false alarm. However, it's a charge that would have been waived if Brown had that permit in place, which kind of acts as an insurance policy when police respond to a false alarm call.

"It's a communication tool and basically, yes, it (permit) does cover the cost of officers having to respond to false alarms," Holmes said.

Brown does have an opportunity to appeal the $192 in charges and to have his matter officially reviewed. In the meantime, his situation is a good reminder to Phoenix residents with home security systems to get a permit. Even if you live in another municipality here in the Valley and you have a security system, you should probably check with your city to see if you need a permit or something similar.