The summer time scourge of loud music that has many residents calling their council members to complain when police are slow to respond has prompted councilman at-large Kenneth Morris to suggest the city confiscate loud music producing equipment from offenders.
The equipment that is making the sound should be seized, said Morris. The owner can have the equipment returned if they are willing to pay a $1,500 fine within 10 days, he said. He said offenders often have $2,000-$3,000 worth of loud music producing equipment that they use to disturb residents.
Morris has been asking for a local law that would authorize police to seize the equipment, but the city’s legal department worries such a measure may present a constitutional problem. “At this point I don’t really care about the constitutionality of it,” said Morris on last Tuesday. “I’m willing to ask for forgiveness instead of permission.”
Morris’ frustration is a common one in the city. Residents have complained about loud music not only from backyard parties, but also from vehicles. Many have mentioned vehicles that park on a given block to release loud music disturbing residents all times of the day.
Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman, 2nd Ward councilman, said he receives large number of calls from residents complain about loud music.
Akhtaruzzaman mentioned one home on Emerson Avenue, a repeat offender, who disturbs neighbors with impunity. He said he must have contacted police over that particular home more than 10 times every summer.
“They are all over the city,” said Ruby Cotton, 4th Ward councilwoman.
“They have to issue tickets,” said Akhtaruzzaman. He said second time offenders should be issued a ticket straight away.
“There are real constitutional issues,” said city law director Domenick Stampone. He said the law department is doing research on Morris’ suggested ordinance.
“We have been working on a draft ordinance,” said the director. We’re trying to craft an ordinance that will withstand constitutional muster, he said.
Stampone said police presently have the power to seize tools used in a crime, drugs, and stolen property. He said an ordinance or an explanation will be brought before the council in matter of weeks.
“They,” said Morris of city residents, “have a constitutional right to peace and quiet within their homes.”