Action steps planned to enforce noise ordinance

Published 6:57 pm Monday, March 16, 2009

Noise. The bump-a-thump from cars with pumped up sound systems rolling down neighborhood streets or even main thoroughfares of Selma have city residents and officials tearing out their hair.

Selma has a noise ordinance, but little way to enforce it, authorities say. By the time someone reports the noisy violator and a police cruiser eases around the corner, all the offender has to do is flip the switch. No noise. No citation.

“We’re working on it,” said Selma Police Chief William Riley III at a recent meeting. “We’re working on it and we’ll do a better job.”

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For months, city council members have received complaints about the noise, but they have few answers. They’ve gone so far as to ask the police department to submit the number of citations issued for violations of the city’s noise ordinance.

Riley has explained unless the police officer hears the violation, that officer can’t write a citation.

Ward 1 Councilman the Rev. Dr. Cecil Williamson said he understands the problem, but the excuses are wearing thin.

“I drive all over town, and I hear it,” the councilman said.

Ward 8 Councilman Corey Bowie gets complaints from people he represents all the time. He’s asking them for patience. He hears them.

Bowie is on the public safety committee. He and other members have met with Riley about what to do about the noise — and they know the level will rise soon as school lets out for the summer months and temperatures begin to rise.

“We have a strategic plan,” Bowie said. “It’s about to happen.”

Neither the councilman nor authorities can talk about the plan because that’ll affect the planned round-up of noise ordinance breakers.

“We all believe each citizen should be entitled to a peaceful environment,” Bowie said. “Loud noise is one of the signs of youth, but it’s also a sign of drug behavior. We want citizens to know that we are concerned about this.”

Bowie plans public service announcements on local radio stations warning those who play their music too loudly that there’s a price to pay.

“They will have to pay a fine. The first offense is $250 and it can go up to $500,” Bowie said. “That’s a lot to pay.”