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Alaskan Police Department Starts Billing for 911 Calls

By: Gerri L. Elder

Police in Anchorage, Alaska have decided that some residents were requiring them a bit too often….so now if they respond to the same residence more than eight times a year, the police service can, by law, send the homeowner a hefty bill.

A local law was passed in 2002 that allowed for taxpayers to foot the bill for the first eight times per year that police are dispatched to a residence.

Hefty Charge for Frequent 911 Calls

The new law says that after the eighth 911 call, the police department can bill the homeowner $500 per visit.

The police estimate that it costs around $500 for each 911 call to pay police officers and maintain police cars and equipment.

The law regarding 911 calls has pretty much just been sitting around collecting dust until recently when enforcement of the law came up and the first homeowner received a bill from the Anchorage police.

The bill that went out was to a homeowner who owns a home that police officers have been called to dozens of times since last summer. Police cars have been to the house ten times in the first 22 days of 2008. The homeowner was billed $23,000 for police visits.

Enforcement Has Begun

The police in Anchorage, Alaska did not begin enforcement of the law until last summer. They finally began enforcing the law when the calls to police by some households were getting out of hand. Some of the problem homes were making 90 or more 911 calls per year.

By law, businesses and 911 calls for medical emergencies and domestic violence will not be billed.

Also, false alarms do not count against the homeowner.

The intention of the law was mainly to give police leverage against crack houses, drug houses and homes that cause general public nuisances on an ongoing basis.

Those problem houses that generate an extraordinary amount of 911 calls are now going to be held responsible, and pay for overuse of police resources.

The police department does not want to discourage citizens from making 911 calls when they need the assistance of police officers. The law was created and is now being enforced to cut down on abuse of the police department resources.

Since it is the homeowner who ultimately receives the bill for 911 calls in excess of eight per year, landlords are responsible for controlling their tenants under this law.

Landlords who have tenants who constantly make 911 calls will either have to make them stop calling 911, evict them or pay up.

On rental properties, the Anchorage police department will first send a letter letting the property owner know that the tenants have required police officers at the home in excess of the yearly limit and that charges are pending.

The landlord will then have 30 days to have the tenant either stop making the 911 calls or they will be billed $500 for each time after the initial eight calls that police have responded to the residence.

The first homeowner to be billed under the law was Tammy Lynn Miller. Police say that they were called to her residence repeatedly for drugs, alcohol and other disturbances.

Miller’s neighbors had complained about cars coming and going from the home at all hours, people arguing in the yard and drunken people urinating in the street. Miller was sent a warning letter in August, but the 911 calls persisted. Finally they sent her a bill for $23,000.

Anchorage police are unlikely to be able to collect $23,000 directly from Miller. She has been arrested and faces jail time for theft and forgery. The home is now in bank foreclosure and had been boarded up. If Miller doesn’t pay the bill, local law calls for liens to be placed against the property, even if the home is in foreclosure.

A warning letter has been sent to one other homeowner in Anchorage, and about six others are likely to also receive warnings if the excessive 911 calls do not stop.