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Q: We have installed an alarm system. Do I need to register with the police department or sheriff’s office?


Answer: Winston-Salem has had an alarm ordinance since 2003.

Only addresses within the city limits of Winston-Salem need to be registered with the police department. This includes certain areas of Lewisville, Kernersville and Pfafftown.

Forsyth County does not have a false-alarm ordinance.

Registration is free and can be done online, by phone, by mail or in person at the Public Safety Center. We have created a direct link to the information about the alarm ordinance and how to register at You can also call the Public Safety Center at (336) 773-7886.

“All alarm companies were also notified of this ordinance going into place,” Jeff Hartzog with the Winston-Salem Police Department, who is one of the department’s false-alarm program coordinators.

“The alarm companies are aware it is their responsibility to inform new customers of this ordinance.”

The city’s alarm regulation is comparable to those in other jurisdictions in North Carolina, including Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, High Point and Durham.

In late 2015, the Winston-Salem Police Department conducted a media campaign to remind people about the city ordinance and how to register their alarm systems.

“Police and Fire expend valuable resources responding to false alarms,” according to the police department’s website. “In an effort to recover a portion of the costs, the City Council enacted a Police and a Fire Alarm Ordinance in December 2002. Both Ordinances became effective April 1, 2003. All alarm systems in the city must be registered by applying for an Alarm Permit. This includes residential, business and commercial alarms (monitored and non-monitored alarms). There is no fee to register the alarm.”

Each alarm ordinance allows three false alarms during a 12-month period, which begins with a first false-alarm response.

Starting with the fourth false alarm, the penalty is $50 and goes up to $500 for 10 or more.

“By reducing false alarms, officers have increased time for problem-solving and community policing,” Hartzog said. “The safety and security of the city is enhanced. Crime is reduced, and officers’ response time to other calls is reduced.”

Some tips to help prevent false alarms:

  • Tell alarm users and key holders how to properly operate the alarm system, including how to arm and disarm it and how to cancel false-alarm activations through the alarm-monitoring company before police arrive.
  • An arming delay of at least 60 seconds is recommended.
  • Properly secure all doors and windows before arming the system, since unsecured ones may result in false alarms.
  • Review procedures for police or fire dispatch with your monitoring services.
  • Make sure motion sensors are adjusted correctly, especially if you have pets or ceiling fans.
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Write: Ask SAM, 418 N. Marshall St., Winston-Salem, NC 27101 

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