July 1, 2009
Noise Free America
For immediate release
Tampa, a city of 380,000 people on the west coast of Florida, has a surrounding area of 4 million. The humid subtropical climate allows noisemakers to blast away year-round. Leroy Benjamin of Tampa commented, “The noise has gotten to epidemic proportions.”
On June 4, 2009, the Tampa City Council decided not to pass a proposed noise ordinance intended to crack down on cars with booming stereos. Instead, the council politely asked Police Chief Stephen Hogue to intensify enforcement of a Florida state law restricting boom car noise levels.
According to Tampa Bay Online, the proposed noise ordinance would have created a “citizen-reporting system that takes complaints and sends violators a ‘soft letter’ with a warning that they mist abide by state and local noise restrictions.” St. Petersburg has a similar ordinance.
Council member John Dingfelder stated, “I’m in favor of an ordinance that is as harsh as possible, but I’m not sure that legally is the right way to go. We need to enforce what’s on the books.”
Major Marc Hamlin, a Tampa police department spokesman, asserted existing laws are working, and that “we would prefer that citizens call us when they hear loud music. Our police officers need to witness the violation.”
Noise Free America’s director, Ted Rueter, noted that “the Tampa police department’s position is ridiculous. Do Tampa police officers need to witness murders or rapes or burglaries in order to take action? It’s obvious that many noisemakers monitor police scanners and know when someone has called to complain. Almost without fail, the noise criminals tone it down by the time the cops arrive. Police departments should use codes or switch to computerized dispatching. They should not be alerting criminals that they’re about to stop by. Tampa should adopt a much stronger ordinance. The Department of Justice has warned localities that allowing boom car noise to get out of hand only leads to more crime and disorder.”
Several area residents posted comments on the Tampa Bay Online discussion board. One citizen stated, “Looks like the windows in my house will be shaking for a long time as the idiots drive by. I may have to start throwing things at them when they wake me up at 3 am with the radio garbage playing. I hope they all go deaf!” Another Tampa Bay resident noted, “And yet the Harleys are allowed to ride five feet from me and make my ears bleed. Lovely.” Another comment: “Tampa could learn a thing from Sarasota. Normal people don’t tolerate unnecessary noise.”
The pro-noise position was also strongly represented on the Tampa discussion board. “Jackson” asserted, “It makes more sense to make silence illegal than than to make noise or other forms of fun illegal. Proponents of illegalizing noise should consider the cemetery. Life is not for sleepers or killjoys. There are plenty of places where there are no people for those that prefer silence. People should be allowed to scream from /sic/ joy at anytime day or night, without concern over someone’s selfish sleep or concentration habits.”
These pro-noise attitudes only reinforce the need for strong noise enforcement, Rueter noted. “The boom car thugs are not going to stop unless and until legislatures pass much stronger laws and the police strictly enforce them,” he said.
Noise Free America is a national 501c3 organization opposed to noise pollution. Previous “winners” of the Noisy Dozen award include St. Petersburg, Florida; Lakeland, Florida; and Lee County, Florida.