by Mary McQueen

Noise Free America: Texarkana

August 19, 2013

The Board meeting of July 1, 2013 was my last appearance regarding the car stereo noise problem. Since then, I am aware the police department has made extra effort to enforce the noise ordinance in my neighborhood. I’m sorry to say, the noise level continued unchanged.

An example of a night I had: On July 20, 2013 (a Saturday morning at 1:30 am), I had heard stereos for several hours continuously. I held off on calling the police because I wanted to see if their patrolling would result in a reduction of noise. It didn’t. So I called the police because by this time, I wanted to go to bed. On another Saturday (August 3), I heard stereos at 1:30 a.m. and 3:20 a.m.

There is also some jerk riding around on an illegally modified motorcycle and revving the engine for prolonged periods.

The puny fines have had no effect whatsoever in changing behavior. Part of the problem with lack of decisive action on everyone’s part is, I think you regard this as a nuisance crime. It is way beyond a nuisance crime. Unwanted noise affects both physical and mental health. To quote from the Department of Justice COPS manual on loud car stereos: “Noise…can cause hearing loss, disturb sleep, increase stress, make people irritable, and make naturally aggressive people more aggressive.”

It reduces property values and causes people to flee neighborhoods. Even people who don’t believe they are bothered by noise have been found to have increased blood pressure when exposed to loud noise. It’s also a gateway crime. The mentally of noisemakers is they don’t care about other people, so it’s easy to escalate to other crimes. There are many more negative effects of noise too numerous to mention here.

I shared with you information about the program in Elkhart Indiana. That is one among many good programs across the country. Has anyone bothered to contact the people in Elkhart, Indiana to get their feedback? I suggested contact with Ted Rueter, Executive Director of Noise Free America. Did anyone contact him? I know he wrote an email to Jessica Hyman. Here is a man offering his services at no charge, yet you give $162,000 to another man just to go away. It boggles my mind that a city would pay something for nothing, and decline to pay nothing for something.

I request you amend the ordinance to include penalties that are more likely to get results. First offense—ok, keep that at $250.00. Second offense, impound the vehicle and/or confiscate the equipment–at the violators’ expense. Third offense, 30 days in jail plus fine. The latter two are not unusual penalties. They’re already being applied in other cities. Give the police department the training and equipment they need to effectively enforce the ordinance. If the police department needs unmarked cars, give them the cars. At least one officer should be designated noise control officer and receive training at the Rutgers University Noise Technical Assistance Center. All of the other patrol officers should read the Department of Justice Problem-Oriented Guides for Police Series No. 7. This can be downloaded for free. It’s a bit dated, but still relevant.

I’m starting to think some people in the city think I’m exaggerating. If that is the case, I can arrange for any one of you, or the judge, to stay in a house near me for a week. The current policies and procedures are not working and will never work.