Police Patrols using Sound Level Meters

Police Patrols Enforcing New Noise Ordinances with Extech Sound Level Meters
Published with permission from Extech Instruments

As more and more cities and states recognize the need to restrain noise levels from typical offenders such as nightclubs, live music venues, and raucous neighbors, that need is being translated into ordinances and laws. While noise nuisance laws have existed as an integral weapon to combat “disruption of the peace,” enforcement was usually conducted by officers’ subjective assessments of “unreasonable noise levels” using only their ears.

Over the last several years, noise laws have been upgraded around the country to have specific noise levels, defined by decibels, as the thresholds above which, noise levels are illegal. To enforce this, police must be equipped with sound level meters, or noise meters, which can measure ambient sound.

For example, according to a Dec. 22, 2005 story in the New York Times, officers enforcing new noise laws “will use a noise meter to measure the offending sound in order to meet a specific, technical definition of unreasonable noise: 10 decibels or more above ambient sound in the daytime, and 7 decibels or more above ambient sound at night, when measured at a distance of 15 feet.”

One major challenge facing patrol officers enforcing noise ordinances is the lack of noise meters. Many noise meters of the caliber that conform to current ANSI standards cost about $2,000 apiece. As a result, entire precincts end up sharing one meter. And, as budgets shrink in this economy, the likelihood of buying more is limited.

By working with a sound level meter maker that can offer sound level meters at a fraction of that cost, police departments can maintain their momentum in equipping patrol officers with individual meters.

Noise meters such as the Extech HD600 sound level meter offer police officers the specifications they need to get the job done effectively without breaking the budget. With a suggested retail price of $499.99, the high accuracy HD600 from Extech offers the capabilities of meters costing 4 times as much. The HD00 conforms to ANSI Type 2 standards; captures 10 readings per second; logs up to 20,000 sample readings for extended time measurements; associates a date and time stamp with readings; identifies minimum and maximum readings and has a USB port for downloading data onto a PC for analysis or record keeping.

The Extech meter is also made to last. As part of the Heavy Duty series of meters from Extech, the HD600 is made for everyday rough-and-tumble usage with a double-molded housing to resist impacts. A three-year warranty offers peace of mind that police departments are making a sound purchase decision, pun intended. Optional calibration certification is available directly from Extech which ensures the meter is calibrated to NIST standards, making its high accuracy readings indisputable.