U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Turning Down the Volume: Effective Strategies for Community Noise Enforcement

NCJ Number
Police Chief Volume: 63 Issue: 12 Dated: (December 1996) Pages: 53,55-57,59
E M Zwerling
Date Published
5 pages
Since persistent loud noises can have detrimental health effects on citizens, police should ensure that relevant ordinances and enforcement procedures are effective in addressing community noise.
Unregulated sources of noise can have effects far beyond the obvious transitory nuisance, and complainants may be enduring more than simple annoyance. Exposure to loud noise has been shown to result in uncontrollable stress, which can produce alterations in mood as well as hormonal and nervous system changes in healthy subjects. Police are on the front line of this issue, since they are the first to receive the complaints and are often called in to deal with the aftermath of people who succumb to the stress; however, many police agencies are impeded by ineffective noise enforcement programs, which may result from an inappropriate ordinance, inadequate noise-measurement equipment, or lack of officer training. If noise complaints are a significant problem within a jurisdiction, and there are facilities that are a chronic source of these complaints, it may be time to review the entire approach to noise enforcement. The ordinance itself must be reviewed and amended if necessary. It should also be determined whether or not the sound measurement equipment can provide the measurements dictated by the ordinance. Finally, officers must be properly trained and certified, so that they become comfortable with noise enforcement, including operation of the equipment, measurement strategies, noise report-writing, and courtroom tactics.