Providence attempts to crack down on noise

Photo credit: Aashish Rai

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

Brett Smiley, the Mayor of Providence, Rhode Island, wants to crack down on noise. His efforts have drawn media attention in The New York Times and the local paper, the Providence Journal. Noise problems in Providence include motorcycle and auto noise, leaf blowers and noisy parties. In his proposed city budget, Smiley asked for money to purchase sound level meters and to train police officers on how to use those meters.

Enforcement of local noise ordinances can be difficult. By the time officers arrive to investigate a noise complaint, the loud noise may have already stopped. Even if the noisy party that neighbors are complaining about is still going on, the noisemakers may question the measurement later on in court. Was the sound level meter appropriately calibrated? Were the measurements made according to recommended protocols? Did atmospheric or wind conditions affect the measurements?

As the Providence City Council considers the budget, municipal priorities are also an issue. “With the ongoing challenges of rooting out violent crime in the city, there are much more challenging issues that require attention,” said Councilor John Goncalves. But as The Quiet Coalition’s Arline Bronzaft noted a few years ago, there may be a correlation between noise and crime. Perhaps efforts to reduce noise will also reduce crime.

We hope the Mayor of Providence is successful in his efforts to reduce noise. A quieter and safer city will be a better and healthier city for all.

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