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False Alarm Reduction Program

Each year, first responders in Richmond respond to false alarms, which result in unnecessary uses of resources and expenses. It also reduces first responder availability to respond to actual emergencies.

To help prevent this, per City Code, owners of alarm systems in the city of Richmond are required to obtain permits for alarm systems and to pay the associated fees and any fines for false alarms.

The Richmond Department of Emergency Communications contracts with an outside vendor, CryWolf, to handle the registration and collection of fees for the permits. Owners of alarm systems are required to pay a one-time $10 initial registration fee and a $5 yearly renewal fee. In addition, alarm owners may be fined for excessive false alarms. These fees and fines are paid directly to a City of Richmond bank account, which has a Baltimore, Maryland, address.

Residents may find out more about these requirements, fees and fines in the City Code, Chapter 10, Article III, Sec. 10-52 and 10-53, which was last updated in 2016. Alarm owners may call Cry Wolf with problems, questions or updates to their account information at 877-893-5267.

As of Oct. 24, 2021, all local calls in Richmond must use the full 10-digit number (area code plus seven-digit number). Three-digit numbers, such as 911 and 311, are not affected. Please ensure that your important safety and security equipment, such as medical alert devices and alarm and security systems, are reprogrammed to use 10-digit dialing.  Please contact your medical alert, security provider or alarm company if you are not sure whether your equipment needs to be reprogrammed. The FCC required this change to transition to the 988 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline that will be fully implemented in July 2022. More information about this change. 

The Richmond False Alarm Reduction Program seeks to reduce the number of false alarms that come into the Richmond Department of Emergency Communications' 911 Emergency Communications Center in the following ways:

  • Working with alarm companies to help reduce the number of false alarms
  • Educating the public about the wasted resources and costs of false alarms and how to prevent them. See prevention tips here.
  • Encouraging alarm owners to be vigilant and proactive in monitoring and correcting problems with their alarm systems
  • Providing a method for the City of Richmond to know who is responsible for alarm systems
  • Providing a method for recouping some of the costs of false alarms by making those responsible pay fines, which also provides an incentive for alarm owners to make changes to prevent future false alarms

The main causes of false alarms are user error, installation/service errors and equipment failure.

Before you activate your alarm system, make sure that everyone is fully educated on its proper operation, including your domestic/cleaning crews, children, neighbors, caretakers, employees and temporary staff.

Know what to do if you set off your alarm accidentally. Do not call 911. You must call your monitoring station.

Have a maintenance contract with a licensed alarm company and have your system checked every year.

If you have any questions or concerns about your alarm system, call your alarm company TODAY.

Learn more prevention tips.

Initial registration: Alarm owners are required to pay an initial $10 registration fee for an alarm system. This fee will be collected by the alarm company. 

Yearly renewal: Alarm owners are required to pay a $5 renewal fee each year. This fee will be collected by the third-party vendor contracted by the Richmond Department of Emergency Communications. The current vendor is CryWolf. The renewal fee will be due on the date of the initial registration and applied to the upcoming 12 months.

False alarm fees: Alarm owners will receive two warnings for false alarms. Fines will be incurred for each false alarm that follows. Collection of these fines is handled by the third-party vendor CryWolf. See the full schedule of false alarm fines here.

Any person or company that owns an alarm system that contacts 911 is considered an alarm owner and must follow the requirements of the False Alarm Reduction Program as specified in the City Code. It does not apply to car alarm systems or doorbell-type systems that do not contact 911.

Alarm owners should contact their alarm company to complete the registration process.

The program began as early as 1993. It was most recently updated in the City Code in 2016.

Collection letters for yearly renewal fees began to be sent out by the third-party vendor CryWolf in fall 2021.

An alarm owner may appeal the assessment of a false alarm fine. Please see the guidelines here.

If you have a question or problem with your alarm system, please contact your alarm company.

If you have a question about registration of your alarm system, please contact your alarm company.

If you have a question or problem about billing for yearly renewal of the registration, please contact the third-party vendor CryWolf by calling 877-893-5267, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST.

If you have a question about the False Alarm Reduction Program, please view the full City Code here. If you still have questions after reading the City Code, please contact the third-party vendor CryWolf by calling 877-893-5267, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST.