The city’s police force received 5,120 calls for service for loud parties, music blasting from cars, and general noise complaints in the past almost a year, according to data police provided to council members on Tuesday night.
Police responded to 1,512 calls for loud parties, 3,187 for general noise complaints, and 421 for loud music from vehicles from June 1st, 2016 through May 8th, 2017, said police director Jerry Speziale. Average police response time to noise disturbance calls is 10 minutes, according to data.
Some have complained about lack of police response for loud music calls. “We respond to all calls,” said Speziale. He said sometimes noise disturbances are pushed to the back of the list for response due to other more serious calls for service like shootings.
Speziale explained the 10-minute response time is an average of all the calls. There have been reported instances where police take hours to respond to noise complaints, according to both council members and local residents.
One example of this was cited by council members Maritza Davila and Shahin Khalique. Both complained about lack of police response to a problem area in the 2nd Ward known for loud late night block parties.
The isolated portion of Sheridan Avenue from Crosby Avenue to the dead end has been a reported problem area, said Davila. She said neighbors are fed up with the loud noise and lack of police response.
“It’s pretty much every day,” said Khalique.
“It gets worse during the weekend,” added Davila. There’s drinking, dancing, yelling, she said. The single block has received a number of complaints over the past months; police dispersed large crowds from the isolated block where the Paterson school district’s facilities office is located.
Speziale noted down the location and assured both council members of better enforcement. He said the city has been cracking down on noise complaints particularly at local parks. In recent weeks, the city’s loud noise problem has negatively impacted neighbors in Elmwood Park. A mayoral candidate and councilman Joseph Dombrowski complained to the city council about the issue in late April.
The police director said the mayor of Elmwood Park has been thankful the loud music problem at Eastside Park has been abated.
Mayor Robert Colletti praised the director for bringing the noise problem at Eastside Park under control. The loud music from the park has been negatively affecting residents on both sides of the Passaic River.
Police from both Paterson and Elmwood Park have been cooperatively working to abate the loud music problem at Eastside Park. The mayor said police in Paterson have the full cooperation of his police department to permanently banish the noise coming out of Eastside Park.
“We’re both going to stand on top of it until the music stops,” said Colletti.
Council president William McKoy said the noise problem at Eastside Park also garnered complaints from city residents. The city on Tuesday night approved a new noise pollution ordinance. The city always had a local ordinance to curb noise disturbances; lack of enforcement has been an issue.
Thousands of calls for noise abatement ties up police resource and has to be addressed, said McKoy. He urged the director to restore a two-car police detail to handle noise complaint as was done in the past. Speziale said he is looking into this and has not made a decision yet. He said this extra detail will cost money.
McKoy asked for the number of summonses issued for the 5,120 calls. Speziale said the court does not track the noise summonses. He said the city’s new dispatch system will allow for police to generate that data.
Some council members have said the new noise pollution ordinance pushed by health director Donna Nelson-Ivy is useless without strong enforcement. This ordinance has been in the works for months, long before the councilman from Elmwood Park complained to the governing body, noted the council president.
Some have described the loud music problem plaguing the city as a cultural problem. Several council members called for a public education campaign to inform residents about the noise pollution.
Speziale said outreach has been difficult. He said reverse 911 is not likely to reach the intended audience due to the prevalence of cellphones.
“Strict enforcement is what has really helped us,” said Speziale. This is also teaching violators an expensive lesson. McKoy said the violators are often the same people — he suggested targeted operation to repeatedly hit repeat offenders.
“It’s sad. People don’t know how to be good neighbors anymore,” said Alex Mendez, councilman at-large.
This report was updated with comments from the mayor of Elmwood Park at 11 a.m. on May 10th, 2017.