Chamber members met with the St. Petersburg Police Department (SPPD) to discuss the enforcement of St. Petersburg’s noise ordinances. The meeting revealed that, contrary to recent claims, citations for noise violations have been issued. Some of the confusion about citations may stem from the citation issuance process; rather than being issued to the violating business, citations are issued to highest-level employee that is present at the business when the violation occurs.
SPPD is reluctant to utilize decibel meters. One consideration relevant to the adoption of these devices is that the credibility of decibel-meter readings in court relies in part on whether the equipment operator is a noise expert, as decibel readings can be affected by wind speed and direction, humidity and equipment calibration.
Addressing noise complaints is time consuming for SPPD because addressing one complaint requires two officers. Additionally, many complaints are unable to be pressed legally when complainants prove unwilling to open their homes to officers. Fortunately, SPPD has been successful in resolving noise issues without issuing citations by developing effective working relationships with venue operators. This approach enables officers to focus more on higher-priority issues such as violence, drunk driving and the use of illicit drugs.
SPPD is proposing to City Council that the best next step toward more efficient and effective enforcement of noise ordinances would be to create a civilian noise patrol. This course of action would have dual benefits of freeing up resources for other law-enforcement issues and providing public access to specialized telephone operators who could educate callers on noise issues.