"We get noise complaints all the time," Brazil City Police Department Chief Larry Pierce recently told The Brazil Times. "Our number one call is for barking dogs. If we don't get three or four a day, it's really unusual."
Whether it's a barking dog, roaring stereo or a loud muffler, the Common Council of the City of Brazil has ordinances in place to prevent the occurrence of excessive noise at any time during the day from "residences, buildings, vehicles or other places within the corporate limits of the City of Brazil to preserve and protect the health, welfare and safety of the citizens of the City of Brazil."
According to section 94.05 of the Public Nuisances portion of the Brazil Code of Ordinances:
* No person shall permit excessive noise or to assemble, or permit persons to assemble, in any house, residential dwelling, apartment or building, located within the corporate limits of the city, who annoys, disturbs, injuries or endangers the health, peace or safety of the citizens of Brazil.
* No person shall operate any electronic sound amplification system or equipment, radio, cassette tape player, compact disc player or any machine, device, equipment or musical instrument which produces sound outside of any house, residential dwelling, apartment, building or other enclosed structure, which disturbs the peace, quiet, enjoyment or welfare of the neighborhood within the city at any hour of the day or night, except for a parade, musical concert or other lawful entertainment event approved by the Mayor.
* No person occupying a motor vehicle, bicycle, motorcycle or motor scooter on any street, highway, alley, parking lot, driveway or on any other public or private property within the corporate limits of the City of Brazil, shall operate or permit the operation of any sound amplification system or equipment, radio, cassette tape player, compact disc player, loud speaker or other electronic device used for the amplification of sound from within or on a motor vehicle, bicycle, motorcycle or motor scooter, so that the sound is plainly audible at a distance of 25-feet or more, or beyond the property line if the vehicle or the like is situated on private property.
For many residents, the question is "how loud is too loud?"
According to Pierce, the information in the ordinance covers that.
"It seems like common courtesy is gone sometimes," Pierce said about complaints often filed by feuding neighbors. "A lot of people work night shifts and sleep during the day. Most of the time, it's not the music that is too loud, it's the bass turned up all the way, which is rattling the windows of nearby homes."
For responding officers, the noise has to be plainly audible, which is defined in the ordinance code as being "any sound which clearly can be heard by unimpaired auditory senses based on a direct line of sight of 25-feet or more, including bass reverberation." "The words or phrases from a sound, or the music, need not be discernable for a violation to occur," Pierce said. "If it can be heard by an officer or resident 25-feet away, it's too loud."
Pierce said officers usually ask a person to stop or subdue the noise on their first call to a complaint, and then issue a ticket for the infraction if they have to return.
"But officers don't always arrive on the scene to hear the noise at the level it was complained about," Pierce said. "Although the officer might not hear the offense and be able to issue a ticket, the complainant can sign the ticket."
Pierce said it is similar to a "citizen's arrest," but the complainant has to be willing to testify in any potential court proceedings that may develop.
"It's an option for people to consider," Pierce said. "It would be a civil action and the person would have to be willing to testify just like an officer would have to if it went to court."
As for barking dog complaints, Pierce said Brazil City Ordinance 93.08 covers that issue.
"The ordinance reads, 'No person shall keep within the city, any animal which by loud and frequent barking, howling, yelping or other animal noises, disturbs the peace and quiet or annoys any citizens.' It's the same type of situation for responding officers," Pierce said. "If the animal is barking or howling in an continuous or untimely fashion, then it's too loud."
A violation of either ordinance leads to the potential fines of $25 for the first offense and $50 for each offense afterward.
"If residents have issues with noise complaints, we encourage them to contact the department," Pierce said. "I also want to personally let local residents know that if they feel a complaint, any complaint really, is not handled well, to contact me here at the department. I can't fix what I don't know is wrong."
For more information about Brazil City ordinances, log on to the city website at www.brazil.in.gov and select the City Ordinances button. Specific information can be searched once logged onto the American Legal Corporation website (www.amlegal.com/brazil_in).
To report information about a crime or a potential ordinance violation within the city limits of Brazil, contact the Brazil City Police Department at 446-2211.