Baton Rouge Police officers may have to start carrying decibel meters in their patrol vehicles, if an ordinance scheduled for introduction at next week’s Metro Council meeting eventually becomes law.
The requirement would be one of several changes intended to bring the parish noise ordinance into compliance with state law. Because the local ordinance currently does not meet the tougher requirements of the state law, prosecuting violations has been problematic, according to Deputy Police Chief Johnny Dunham.
“Right now, the parish attorney’s office has a hard time prosecuting these cases,” Dunham says. “So we need to make these tweaks to the ordinance.”
The proposed changes to the ordinance include language that defines a noise violation as anything that is audible from more than 25 feet away and exceeds 85 decibels. The measure would apply to noises that can be heard from a vehicle, a public street, highway or public park.
The measure would also impose a fine of up to $200 for a first-time offender and fines of between $300 and $500 for second-time and subsequent offenders. Violators could also be required to surrender their driver’s license for up to 30 days for a first offense and for 30 to 90 days for subsequent violations.
Currently, the BRPD does not have decibel meters, which cost between $30 and $50 each, Dunham says. He estimates the department could need as many as 600, though it could potentially make do with just half that many. Altogether, that could run the cost to anywhere from $9,000 to $30,000.
If the Metro Council passes the measure, Dunham says he hopes it will also find a source of funding to help the BRPD pay for the new equipment.
The measure is sponsored by Erika Green, who was unavailable for comment this afternoon. It will be introduced at the Sept. 25 meeting and voted on at a later meeting in October.