Tag Archive: police

Police airplane and helicopter noise disturbs the peace

Photo credit: John Wisniewski licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

Police authorities at all levels use aircraft–airplanes and helicopters–to provide surveillance. Flights have been increased during the demonstrations following the killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis. This letter in the Baltimore Sun complains about the noise of surveillance airplanes.

In Los Angeles, the police use helicopters. Helicopter noise is more disturbing for most listeners due to a low frequency component that travels through walls, and a rotatory component to the sound pattern based on the usual clockwise rotation of the rotor.

Whatever the form of aircraft, the sound can disrupt sleep, increase blood pressure, disturb concentration, and interfere with learning. In Figure 3 in a review article by Basner et al., aircraft noise caused an increase in heart attacks beginning at 40-45 A-weighted decibels.*

The letter writer called for the surveillance flights to end. While I don’t know if this is feasible right now, I hope the flights stop soon.

*A-weighting adjusts sound measurements to reflect the frequencies heard in human speech.

Dr. Daniel Fink is a leading noise activist based in the Los Angeles area. He is the founding chair of The Quiet Coalition, an organization of science, health, and legal professionals concerned about the impacts of noise on health, environment, learning, productivity, and quality of life in America. Dr Fink also is the interim chair of Quiet Communities’ Health Advisory Council, and he served on the board of the American Tinnitus Association from 2015-2018.

How Mumbai solves its horn problem

Photo credit: CommGlobal UVA licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

In India, a saying goes, you need four things to drive: a good car, good eyes, good luck, and a good horn. Honking horns are ubiquitous in the sprawling city of Mumbai. When the traffic light turns red, drivers honk their horns to get the drivers in front of them ready to move when it turns green.

The local police have figure out a solution to this noisy problem, though. They’ve hooked up decibel meters to the lights. If the drivers honk their horns, the light stays red.

The New York Times reports that other Indian cities are considering installing the same equipment.

Maybe the traffic folks in New York City will consider doing the same?

Dr. Daniel Fink is a leading noise activist based in the Los Angeles area. He is the founding chair of The Quiet Coalition, an organization of science, health, and legal professionals concerned about the impacts of noise on health, environment, learning, productivity, and quality of life in America. Dr Fink also is the interim chair of Quiet Communities’ Health Advisory Council, and he served on the board of the American Tinnitus Association from 2015-2018.

How to handle an anti-social neighbor with a lawn mower

Photo credit: Sepp Vei has released this photo into the public domain

by G.M. Briggs

Call the cops and haul him to jail, apparently. According to the Washington Post, one Florida man spent Christmas Eve in jail for disturbing the peace with his lawn mower. That may seem harsh, but if you read past the weird news lede, you’ll see that Robert Wayne Miller of Zephyrhills, Florida, earned his night in the pokey. Namely, he allegedly was using his riding mower at night for hours on end, making it impossible for his neighbors to sleep. And according to one neighbor, Miller used used the riding mower “for transportation at times,” adding “that it [wasn’t] actually capable of cutting grass.”

It seems pretty clear from the story that Miller enjoyed tormenting his neighbors. So while calling the cops to deal with an obnoxious neighbor should be the last resort, when you’re dealing with someone who is using noise as a weapon, there are few other (nonviolent/dangerous) options.

Here’s hoping Miller’s neighbors finally got a good night’s rest.

Thanks to Jeanine Botta for the link.

Toronto cracks down on noisy cars and motorcycles

Photo credit: alyssa BLACk licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Toronto police have launched an Awareness and Enforcement for Unnecessary Noise campaign that focuses on loud cars and motorcycles. Cops are ready to had out tickets ranging from $110 to $155 for “drivers honking horns, having excessively loud mufflers, revving motorcycles, blasting their car radio, as well as those stunt driving and squealing their tires.”

The mayor, John Tory, said whatever the cause, loud noise is inexcusable. And starting on October 1, the city’s new noise bylaw becomes effective, which will give police even more power to deal with noisy drivers.

Let’s hope New York City and other American cities and towns are watching closely.  Canada may be taking the lead on dealing with street noise, but eventually–one hopes–it’s neighbor to the south will take notice.

It’s about time

New Hampshire police plan to crack down on noisy motorcycles. WCVB reports that Portsmouth, New Hampshire police are getting serious about super loud motorcyles, and they will be “investing in equipment and training needed to recognize if a motorcycle is illegally loud.”  What’s the standard for illegally loud?  Apparently in New Hampshire it’s 92 decibels. We would suggest, however, that the standard should be 83 decibels, which was the noise level limit established by the EPA back when the agency was properly funded and not being attacked from all sides.

Still, whatever the applicable decibel level, at least the Portsmouth police are taking motorcycle noise seriously. How seriously? They plan to set up checkpoints to test motorcycle noise level. Let’s hope this is the start of a nationwide trend.

 

 

State: New York City needs to improve response to noise complaints

Photo credit: Keng-Yu Lin licensed under CC BY 2.0

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli has released an audit showing a “growing number of noise complaints related to nightlife establishments in New York City,” with noise complaints more than doubling between 2010 and 2015. DiNapoli says that the audit “highlights the need for the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) and the New York City Police Department (NYPD) to better communicate and crack down on bars and clubs with persistent noise problems.” Despite the doubling of complaints, “including tens of thousands involving nightlife,” DiNapoli’s auditors “found limited communication between the SLA and NYPD to address the grievances.” Incredibly, bars and nightclubs with “hundreds of complaints lodged against them faced little or no repercussions.”

Residents of the Lower East Side, an area hit particularly hard by nightlife noise, won’t be surprised by the report, as that neighborhood has become increasingly popular as a nightlife destination. In fact, residents there are working together to stop a force they see destroying their quality of life. Stacey Delikat, Fox5NY, writes about the residents’ efforts, and reports that party buses pull up at 2:00 a.m., the streets are clogged with drunks, and there is vomit on the sidewalks, something the residents call “just an average weekend on the Lower East Side.”

So now that the state and city are aware of the increase in complaints and the failure to address them, what’s the plan? DiNapoli recommends that the SLA “develop a formal process to access and analyze 311 noise complaint data….and develop and implement a formal communication protocol with the NYPD” and other public oversight authorities responsible for addressing noise matters that “pertain to SLA-licensed establishments.” DiNapoli also suggests that the NYPD enhance record keeping of noise complaints to improve “management analysis of response times and the effectiveness of the actions taken” and develop “system-wide procedures to follow up on establishments with high volumes of noise complaints” that include “periodic communications with the SLA.”

While better communication between the NYPD and SLA can’t hurt, the report states that although the SLA took actions against establishments with a high level of complaints, “actions were rarely taken (if ever) against certain establishments with comparatively high levels of noise complaints.” Rather, the report notes, “officials usually do not open cases based solely on noise complaints, such complaints are coupled with other issues (such as alcohol sales to minors or non-compliance with building codes) that officials believe are of greater importance.” Perhaps the report should simply have recommended that the SLA make noise complaints a higher priority.

In any event, within 90 days of the Comptroller’s report the SLA is obligated to report to the governor, comptroller, and various legislative leaders to tell them what steps were taken to implement recommendations, which recommendations were not taken, and why; the NYPD is requested to do the same.

Next up? The press release ends with a note that the Comptroller “is currently conducting an audit on construction noise in the city.”

 

It’s going to be a long summer

You’re finally settled into your new place! And then you learn that your neighbor is a DJ…

New rules limit NYPD’s ability to address noise complaints. Just in time for the summer, New York City police “will no longer be allowed to go onto private property and remove sound equipment when responding to noise complaints.”  The reason, reports the NY Daily News, is that a new directive provides that “’warrantless entry’…is not authorized solely for the purpose of abating noise conditions.” Under the directive, if police are not given permission to enter an address for which a noise complaint has been made, “the officers ‘may return on the following day and issue summonses as appropriate.’”

While we understand–and applaud–the police department’s concern about officers engaging in warrantless entries, providing that officers “may return the following day” (unlikely) to issue a summons seems like a recipe for disaster: take one obnoxious and indifferent neighbor, add in too much noise, stir in a bucket full of frayed nerves, and shake vigorously. If the NYPD wants to stop warrantless entries for noise complaints while maintaining the peace, maybe it’s time to extend night court hours beyond 1:00 a.m. and allow officers to get a timely summons.

 

Noise-activated camera to nab noisy motorists? It might just work:

Taipei, Taiwan installs sound-activated cameras to target noisy motorists. The Taipei Times reports that the Taipei Department of Environmental Protection has “unveiled a noise-activated camera to photograph motorists who make excessive noise at night.”  The camera is activated when noise recordings reach 84 decibels or more between 10:30 p.m. and 3:30 a.m.  When that happens, the camera will send the image and decibel level to a laptop computer operated by inspectors who will be by the roadside.  So how much will you have to pay for the privilege of honking your horn at night?  Between NT $1,800 to $3,600 (roughly US $57 to $114), depending on the decibel level.

Sleep well, Taipei.

Link via @hyperacusisresearch.

Who doesn’t?

Residents want police crackdown on loud, fast motorcycles.  The complaint isn’t against all motorcyclists–it never is.  Rather, the residents in this article are angry at “[p]eople driving loud bikes, deliberately modified for the sole purpose of being extra loud and obnoxious.”  We agree.  Those extra loud tail pipes do not come with a new bike, by the way.  They are aftermarket purchases, which clearly shows that rider is deliberately making noise because they want to.  We believe that is called “anti-social behavior,” and the police should be citing motorcyclists who engage in this activity.  Should.  But the article highlights a problem with enforcement, namely that the police refuse to do it:

Lisgo would like to see every officer equipped with a simple sound-measuring device, just as officers are equipped with breathalyzers to check for impaired drivers. She said her efforts to persuade police to crack down so far have been unsuccessful.

“They tell me they just don’t have enough manpower and they have better things to do and I just don’t buy that.”

Either do we.  Good luck to the residents of West Kootenay.  We hope you are successful in stopping this scourge.

Thanks to Hyperacusis Research for the link.

Meanwhile every motorcycle in town could drive by the police and never get stopped:

Opera Singer Arrested for Violating Alexandria Noise Ordinance.

No doubt someone may have found the performance annoying–busking is busking whatever the caliber of the performer.  That said, there is nothing in the article linked above that suggests that the police were responding to a complaint.  That is, it’s unclear whether they saw an opportunity to protect he streets from opera but were provoked into arresting the singer when she refused to shut down her amplified orchestral accompaniment.

Truth be told, we’re torn on who we should support in this story.  On the one hand, we would prefer to not be bombarded by amplified sound.  On the other, we wonder whether the police are normally as diligent when dealing with noise criminals.  Adding that we wish the cops were as vigilant with motorcyclists sporting aftermarket tail pipes as they are with desperate opera singers carrying amplifiers.