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Should police officers use a decibel meter to determine if parties are too loud?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on April 18, 2006

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Photo of Aaron Emrich

“I’d say that a decibel meter would be the only fair way to do it, but they should still give them a warning first.”

Photo of Brian Keidel

“No, that sounds stupid. It should depend upon the neighborhood that the party is in. They shouldn’t use the same standards for the student ghetto as they do for Alvamar.”

Photo of Laura Raab

“That would help enforce more tickets, but I don’t think it will prevent people from having loud parties. The police will just write more tickets and make more money.”

Photo of Erin Culset

“I think that would be a good idea, because otherwise it just depends on the officer’s interpretation. It would be more accurate to use the meter.”


Larry 12 years ago

Absolutely not! It isn't the city's job or the governments job to police noise level in my neighborhood. There is no scientific research that supports loud party noise causes physical, mental, emotional or social stress. After all, non of us are required to stay in our current house. If we don't like the loud, obnoxious college students next door or down the street, we can move or close our windows. As long as the occupants are the owners or renters of that structure, they have the right to do as they please and the rest of us will just have to deal with it if we CHOOSE to live near them. You know - kind of like how some of you think the Non-smoker (who chooses to stay healthy by not smoking) should be the ones who have to make a choice about visiting a restaurant where smoking is okay. "If you don't like it, don't eat there"..... Never mind that the person with the bad habit be forced to make the choice. Honestly - college towns are college towns. I attended KU as a teen and attended many parties and hosted a few. The police visited our house on numerous occasions and they always handled the situation very well. Even a particular night when they visited two or three times. At least a decimal meter would allow for consistent monitoring rather than a judgment call on the officers part.

bankboy119 12 years ago

Yeah Larry that was really bad. You're saying that the people with the bad habit (those making the noise) have the right to keep the entire neighborhood up and then turn right around and say that the smoker shouldn't have a choice? It's kind of hypocritical if you ask me.

One other thing, your answer to the question was "Absolutely not!" and then your last sentence says "At least a decimal meter would allow for consistent monitoring rather than a judgment call on the officers part." I don't understand which of those should is your actual answer.

gccs14r 12 years ago

Some people don't get sarcasm.

YourItalianPrincess 12 years ago

I live around some houses that have students in them and I don't hear much when they have parties. At times it can get a bit loud, but most of the time they do have respect for the neighbors around them.

What is a student ghetto compared to Alvamar?

jonas 12 years ago

Considering Larry and his post history, he's either being sarcastic, or he just fell, hit his head on the toilet, and invented the flux capacitor.

jonas 12 years ago

And comparing it to the smoking ban is a terrible analogy.

neopolss 12 years ago

If it's too loud, you're too old.

Kick it up to eleven.

Jay Bird 12 years ago

I think a meter would be fair. I get tired of my pictures rattling on the walls because of the Kegger next door. If you just take into consideration the time of day, or night, that your throwing the party and how well you get along with your neighbors, there shouldn't be a problem. They are the ones who will call the police anyway. If your music over rides my TV. then there is a problem.

Golden rule people, plain as that.

craigers 12 years ago

Great Scott jonas, I think you might be onto something. The decibel meter would allow for more standard measurements of the noise. However, some students will have neighbors that sleep soundly through the night no matter what and those who go to bed at 9pm and think that any noticable music at that point is too much. Since neighbors can be touchy there should be a measurement that is the standard. Let's say 88!!!

DustyMiller 12 years ago

Over the last 30 years KU has increasingly entrenched the teaching of "uncivil liberties". The turn from social to corporate endowment is a move from authentic civil liberty to nihilism, and from social responsibility to narcissism. That the mind-set of self-indulgence makes claim to civil liberty is oximoronic. Only in a "dumb-downed" population having no sense of the humanties would such a misoriented construction arise. Yes?

jonas 12 years ago

Yes what, Hobbes? Your first two sentences we're at least comprehensible. But if you can tell me how a mind set can make a claim to anything, being without tangible form, and then clearly explain what the hell you're talking about, then it might be better. There seems to be a point buried in there somewhere. Bring it out. Bring it out.

paladin 12 years ago

I think that there is a much greater need for odorometers, because foul odors are much more offensive and, yes, dangerous, too. And cause a great deal more physical, mental, emotional or social distress. Actually, a whole array of various types of meters, hanging about the Officer's neck, could make the world a much better place in which to try to live contentedly.

lunacydetector 12 years ago

let's say someone next door (probably some drunk and rowdy college students) had a loud party until the wee hours of morn. not only did the noise keep you sleep deprived, but you lost your hearing as well. if someone paid me to live in these conditions is one thing, but to have this put upon me involuntarily is another thing (i refer to the smoking ban).

now you have to go to work. you are sleep deprived driving to kansas city with the sun glaring in your sleepy eyes, and an emergency vehicle with sirens wailing is coming up on your backside. you can't see because your eyes are tired and the sun is blinding, and you can't hear the sirens as the emergency vehicle approaches on your left at a high rate of speed. being sleep deprived you aren't as attentive to the blind spot in your rearview decide to change lanes just as the emergency vehicle passes......

there should be an all out ban on loud parties because of the public's safety and health. let the party goers wear walkmans - kinda like making the smokers go outside. Or, fine the landlords for the noisy tenants (THAT sounds fair doesn't it?) - just like the barkeeps and/or landlord gets fined if a patron smokes.

remember, this is the people's republic of lawrence.

RonBurgandy 12 years ago

Enough about the stinking smoking ban.

I don't see a problem with decibel meters. Sort of a standardized way to go about assessing the party noise. More objective, less subjective kind of thing. The problem lies with determining the decibel level that is allowed.

gccs14r 12 years ago


Put the baffles back in. Making your bike obnoxious makes people hate motorcyclists and we have a hard enough time co-existing with the cagers as it is.

curiosos_husband 12 years ago

Seems to me we've been over this before? This reminds me of when they have too many donated multiple door prizes and almost no one shows up for the dance, or church social, so they put your numbers back in the box, and the few attendees keep winning over and over, the same sad OTS question. And everyone was really wanting the Taco Bell coupon.

Chris Tackett 12 years ago

Not sure how effective the Meter would be, but the fact police no longer give warnings is ridiculous.

how can a party know they are "too" loud if they don't get a warning? Because like someone said, the definition of "too loud" changes depending on the neighborhood.

sgtwolverine 12 years ago

"Stinking smoking ban." That's good, Ron.

As far as the meter ... why not? There is such a thing as excessive noise, no matter who you are and where you live.

And thanks a lot, c_h; you mentioned Taco Bell, and now I'm getting hungry.

Kathleen Christian 12 years ago

They should use the decibel meter as well as distance from other establishments or houses. For example: if the meter registers 100? decibel past 50 yards then the party is too loud. (don't know if 100 d's is accurate). I think students have been given too much encouragement that to party is an acceptable way of life. It is okay to have a gathering but it doesn't have to include alcohol/drugs, loud rowdy music, fighting and disruption - not to mention disturbing other neighbors.

Liberty 12 years ago

Just outlaw every party and have the police in your house just to make sure that you do not even think about having a party. This would be a party thought crime.


Treat others the way that you would want to be treated. If you control yourself and work with your neighbors, their is less likelyhood of an issue. Live godly, and do what is right in God's sight. Be considerate of others. If more people would live this way, there would not be a problem. "The law is not made for a righteous man but for the unrighteous".

sgtwolverine 12 years ago

It's sad, but when I think of college parties, I now think of that fiasco up at Duke. The one involving the lacrosse team.

jonas 12 years ago

Onshakedown: Well, I'm sure the city would be happy to subsidize partiers, on their party permit application, with the rental of a decibal meter of their own, so the party can monitor their own noise level.

There's never a need to think about Duke. Much less about their lacrosse team, whatever they did with that stripper.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 12 years ago

A dB meter makes sense. Cops use radar for traffic control, so it's a consistent concept.

Those of you who don't think that we all have a responsiblity to show respect to our neighbors need to grow up. Any one of us should be able to buy a house anywhere in the U.S. and be able to go to bed at a decent hour knowing that we will not be awakened by someone's party or stereo.

The "student ghetto" arguement is old and lame. It flys in the face of Equal Housing ideals to say that I should stay out of certain areas if I have a child that needs to sleep at night. If the city government enforced noise ordinance laws in that way, they'd get sued (maybe by me). This city, all corners of it, belong to us all. If I want to live next to a house full of 20 year old Duke lacrosse players and still get a good night's sleep every night, I should be able to do that.

assistant1234 12 years ago

Lawrence already has "db meters", they are the police, and I believe these men and women have the common sense to know when a party is disturbing the peace. There is no need to spend money on equipment when we have people capable of making these decisions.

enochville 12 years ago

I am for db meters. Objectivity is better than subjectivity when it comes to the law. A party host can debate whether their party was too loud to a police officer who is just using his ear, but does not stand a chance winning a debate when the meter says the party was 100 dbs.

However, the measurement should be taken at the property line, not inside the party house, etc.

bankboy119 12 years ago

omb, not true. They do give you a speeding ticket if they think you were driving too fast. I'm sure I can find the check that my wife had to send in.

Liberty 12 years ago

A db meter could not be used with consistancy. Then you would have to have laws on how to use the meter. Do you measure at the steet or on the porch or at the stereo? Would the same measurement be used or just for some people? A db meter does not catch short noises unless the monitor is on 24hrs a day. How about a woman screaming. She makes a noise and then it is gone. The police come out and then it is quiet. A db meter will never work. Only self control.

lilchick 12 years ago

Posted by gccs14r (anonymous) on April 18, 2006 at 8:25 a.m. (Suggest removal)


Put the baffles back in. Making your bike obnoxious makes people hate motorcyclists and we have a hard enough time co-existing with the cagers as it is.

Loud pipes save lives. The only problem I have ever had with cagers is when they don't 'see' which point the loud pipes can at least make them aware via their ears that a bike is somewhere near them.

lilchick 12 years ago

As far as dB meters, let the police do their job. If they think someone's party is too loud, talk to them, give them a warning, if you come back a second time, you have documented that they were warned to quiet down but didn't.
Has anyone who is complaining about the parties ever gone to said party, knocked on the door and asked them to keep it down? My former neighbor who would have parties was always very nice about quieting down his guests when I asked him politely to do so.

Liberty 12 years ago

The next thing they will decide that we need enforcement 24 hours a day and so certain people in the city will want to install listening devices in your neighborhood for 24 hour monitoring, just to make sure there is no loud noises. Now, all conversations will be monitored.

Then the neighbors little girl goes out to play and screams. The police come roaring out and ticket her and her parents for playing too loud. Or a monitor records a conversation in disagreement with something about the government. Then that person mysteriously dissappears for "questioning". This is the direction society is heading towards.

"You will either agree to be governed by God (using self control) or by tyrants."

enochville 12 years ago

I tire of slippery slope arguments. Evaluate each new law based on its on merits and its direct implications not by what some future congress or committee may want to do next.

Linda Aikins 12 years ago

If it is windy, does that affect the noise level?

Just wondering....

Larry 12 years ago

Sarcasm is a good thing unless you don't recognize it. Ask Jonas - he is the king of sarcasm.

sunflower_sue 12 years ago

Is OMB quoting poetry? Better lay off the fresh roast!;)

Blue Harley, If that is the same Bob Lewis I know, He is one cool dude! They don't make 'em much better than him.

dB meters: Oh yes! Let's waste our money on more crap!

monkeywrench1969 12 years ago

I happen to be a home owner in a newer neighborhood. the thing is in a new neighborhood there are a few rentals surrounded by homeowners. This is common for contractors to have in an area where they have built for retirement income. SOmetimes you have good renters other times you have bad which include partying students and non students.

You have no control over who rents when they are trying to find a renter. I had a rental diagonal from me for a couple of years. The last group partied every night for three weeks before they were evicted. People were sleeping in cars on the street, taking showers inside the house and getting dressed in their cars and when they left the landlord found a Honda transmission mounted in one of the bedrooms. The house was sold to a jailer. Nights have been quiet since.

The argument you know what you are getting into before you move in is ignorant because of privacy laws and landlords who want to fill their pockets. My decibel meter at the time was my newborn son who kept being woken up by the noise. I went over several times to ask them to turn it down and got the typical "Cool man I understand" line...then it went right back up.

I know what some of these people are going through.

neopolss 12 years ago

Whatever happened to people actually going next door and bringing their complaint in person? Have we all come to the point that we now need the police to do every little task? Have we no balls? Instead of going next door, they hide in a corner and phone the police, like a small child tattling on his siblings. Grow some sack people.

jonas 12 years ago

Larry: I prefer to think of myself as a satirist, and not so much sarcastic. I don't claim, though, to be king of anything except the jews.

/whoa, I can't believe I just wrote that! Here goes!

monkeywrench1969 12 years ago


As earlier explained, I made several trips myself and got the Yeah no problem line and then next thing you know it got loud again.

These guys even raced their modified Hondas up and down the street and at one point, screeched out of their drive in reverse into my next door neighbor's drive way (to the garage door) then screeched out into their driveway again. A simple turn it down does not really work...that's what the police are for.

H_Lecter 12 years ago

I always keep the screamers in the basement because I want to be a good neighbor

gccs14r 12 years ago

"Loud pipes save lives. The only problem I have ever had with cagers is when they don't 'see' which point the loud pipes can at least make them aware via their ears that a bike is somewhere near them."


The only people who hear your pipes are the folks behind you. That doesn't do anything for the idiot who turns left in front of you. By the time your lumbering twin spins up enough to "alert" someone, they'll have already hit you. You'd be better off with a headlight modulator. Besides, loud pipes lose rights. More and more places are banning bikes altogether because of folks who run open pipes.

sunflower_sue 12 years ago

Neo, I checked...I have none.

Hi H. Lecter! I guess I missed "the zapping of Hannibal." Too bad. I'm sure it must have been a good read. Darn!

mztrendy 12 years ago

could somone bring that meter when my fat bald neighbor is mowing his grass at 7am on sunday mornings? Or when the neighbors kids are SCREAMING at 10:00pm when they are splashing in their pool? Why's it just got to be about parties?

sgtwolverine 12 years ago

Hey, as someone who lives in the country, let me say that cities ruin the night sky. A good part of the night sky around me is tinged orange from city light.

Tony Kisner 12 years ago

What did the Supreme Court decide; I know loud noise when I hear it?

I had some roomies while in school who wanted to party loud all night long unimpeded. They did object though when I wanted the same right to loud noise at 6:00 AM the following day.

Rights seems to mean what you want when you want it.

fletch 12 years ago

Let's look at the situation from a different lens. When you get stopped for a traffic violation, the police officers have radar gun and video footage of you. This isn't just for their own amusement. It's for evidence. When a ticket is a appealed, a judge or jury can look at that evidence and make an impartial judgement as to guilt or innocence. The alternative being that the officer takes the stand and says what happens and the citizen takes the stand and says what happened. This creates a problem for the standard or an impartial judiciary (blind justice if you will). The judge or jury will always be inclined to take the word of the officer, even if they happen to be wrong. A citizen would never be able to have a fair trial on the issue, which is a violation of their basic rights.

Now let's come back to the noise complaint. The reason so few of these have gone to court is that nobody wants to deal with the above scenario. There is a littany of case law that would get the convictions thrown out or even have the ordinance reversed. It is in the best interest of the city to provide a method of collecting evidence instead of relying on fluctuating standards. This way, they can convict more people for noise complaints. dB meters will equate to more convictions, not less. It is much easier for an officer to show up with hard data and say "the law said 7 db and the meter read 8.25 db at multiple locations on the street." Done. Fine enforced.

College studenst are going to party. You're never going to stop it. People that think they can are usually the same people that think society can stop teenagers from having sex or drinking. It's not going to happen. So at the very least, a standard should be created. A line should be etched in stone. This far and nothing more. A dB limit prevents large keggers, people mulling around front lawns or streets, and many other inconviences. It means parties are smaller, kept indoors, and with less music.

It also means that the older members of the community must obey the same standards. So my old neighbor who liked to crank up his stereo on the front porch and work on his car at 7 in the morning on a Saturday has to be equally respectful to his neighbors.

jonas 12 years ago

easy does it: I had neighbors at Berkeley Flats who would come home from the bars at 2 and play Pantera (which I like, just not when I'm trying to sleep) so I would go over to my girlfriends house, and forget to turn off my 1000 angry honking geese alarm clock, so it would run unimpeded for 2 hrs from 6 to 8 in the morning. At least you can get even.

beatrice 12 years ago

7am mowing? Get out there and tell him it is too *&%^ early to be mowing. If he refuses to wait until at least 8:30, then take Neo's sack with you to scare him.

Liberty, oh Liberty: "Live godly, and do what is right in God's sight." Which God are we talking about? Right now there are suicide bombers doing things in the name of God. I assure you those explosions are too loud and would warrant a citation.

jonas: flux capacitor! LOL.

sgtwolverine 12 years ago

Militant, I bet the only people who would be willing to work the Patriot Patrols would be noisy illegal alien terrorists who deal drugs and don't show up to school.

At least the out-of-town thugs would be in trouble!

Linda Aikins 12 years ago

I don't want no sack....I can ask them to be quiet without having one. And they don't look comfortable anyway.

Chrissy Neibarger 12 years ago

I'm thinking that if you were to have a "time" for loud noise levels, it would need to be 24 hours. There are some people that work 3rd shift, and the day time is thier night they might not like the picnic going on next door.. just a thought.

as for the question, it's not a bad idea, something they can at least use as "evidence"

Larry 12 years ago

I'll tell you what Jonas. We may not agree on much of anything, but you sure bring some good laughs with your sarcasm or satire. (pretty much the same thing).

mztrendy 12 years ago

yep. No joke, and for some reason, the area by my bedroom window seems to be where he starts.

Linda Endicott 12 years ago

If they had decibel meters, at least they might be able to prove that the party (or whatever) was too loud...


Equipment can malfunction, and they would have to be taught how to use it correctly. I heard of a cop once who clocked a tree going 35 mph with a radar gun. You can always get incorrect readings if you try hard enough.

rhd99 12 years ago

Once again, big brother with a big heart & an empty head. THINK about this? You honestly believe that it is okay for police officers to use a decibel meter in noise ordinance enforcement?! Rundle & Schauner are two of the biggest empty heads we have determing the laws of our city, & they don't have the balls to enforce what they propose & pass! It's time for fresh faces on this City Commission! All crap & no substance, that is what makes Rundle & Schauner exist on this commission.

sgtwolverine 12 years ago

The real question is whether or not they would carry tasers to these parties.

Linda Aikins 12 years ago

RonB - now that sounds like a fun place!

neopolss 12 years ago

Biggest issue with this idea - the noise ordinance "profiles" in the manner that students are the sole aim. Need we forget that many noisy lawnmowers and longtime residents will feel the ordinance if it is based on decibal. No policy is made with the peopls in mind only $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

sunflower_sue 12 years ago

I'd like to be on the de-illumination committee. Matter of fact, let's just ban all lights after 9:30 p.m. The city lights really do mess up my country skies! I want to see the Milky Way...darnit! Just like when I was a tot. IS THAT REALLY ASKING TOO MUCH? I'M GETTING ANGRY HERE! HUH? HUH? WELL...

RonBurgandy 12 years ago

sue is shouting...look at all the capital letters....

Linda Aikins 12 years ago


killjoy 12 years ago

s_s, Have you checked out any of the astronomy software? Some of it is pretty cool, especially on a laptop.

Best noise story. While in college, I opened the door to see who's stereo was blasting so loudly. Once I stuck my head outside I could hear someone very loudly exultantly moaning over the sound of the music. For the next six months that I lived there, whenever I heard their stereo, I open the door to hear the chorus.

sunflower_sue 12 years ago



killjoy, I tried viewing the stars on my laptop once but it didn't go so well when I took it into the hot tub with me!

massst 12 years ago

where do u get all these devices??when there is pill for every thing...

jonas 12 years ago

Gosh Larry, I'm blushing. I take back one of the bad things I said about you, you can pick.

The other @468 bad things I've said about you, those have to stay though.


paladin 12 years ago

If I'm not mistaken, and I may well be, cows do not like loud noises and don't like to be shouted at. Its very traumatic for them. So much so that they get all milk-locked and will not yield any milk when an attempt to milk them is made. I believe, though I may be mistaken, that if this nervous trauma continues, unrelieved, long enough, then they can get bloated and eventually explode. So, one must be gentle with them, and speak soothingly to them, in order for them to function as cows in the manner they were intended to.

curiosos_husband 12 years ago

Ron B-that link was outrageous, thanks.

paladin 12 years ago

May God bless Marion, expert or not, cause he's a good guy.

Redzilla 12 years ago

We don't trust the police to exercise common sense on the matter of speeding...don't see why using a mechanical method to measure noise is so controversial.

Larry 12 years ago

Jonas, not me man ----I'm not taking back any bad thing I said about you. I still think your crazy - funny, but crazy. You probably do think your the King of the Jews, don't you?

lunacydetector 12 years ago

i knew a guy who lived in st. louie. his neighbor had a dog that barked, and the neighbor always let it out late at night to do his business then bark for a couple of hours. instead of calling the police, the guy i knew went to the neighbor's house and asked if the dog could be taken inside. the neighbor took his dog inside, then he came back out with a shotgun and shot the guy i knew in the back as he was walking away, killing him -leaving two little children without a daddy and a wife without a husband. true story.

the moral of this story - if you have a loud neighbor, call the cops.

paladin 12 years ago

How could They ban Katie? She's famous, sort of. I fear a storm is abrewing.

paladin 12 years ago

I had a son once who stuffed a bean up his nose and I had to take him to the ER to get it out. He later graduated from the Naval Academy and is now a Navy pilot. Go figure.

lunacydetector 12 years ago

MD must be thinking of katie holmes NOT katie hornier.

katie holmes just had a baby today - she called tom a bastard and then writhed in silent unmedicated pain for 12 hours. daddy tom cruise waited in eager anticipation for the vitamin and mineral fortified placenta just like david carridine - some L Ron hubbard suggestion or something.

lunacydetector 12 years ago

oh, i didn't know the weather lady was posting on here. never mind. so, katie horner are you back from maternity leave again? how many kids do you have now? 10?

Adam 12 years ago

using an SPL meter is not an accurate way to determine how loud a part really is. SPL meters, or decibel meters as they are being called, measure in averages, not peaks, also, the human ear perceives different frequencies as being louder than others even though they are the same. The bottom line is that a party could still be disturbing to people even if it isn't over a certain dB level on a meter. I think it should remain as it is.

lunacydetector 12 years ago

david carradine's wife filed for divorce right after his afterbirth stunt. she said she couldn't kiss him anymore. i wonder if katie will be able to kiss tom in public again?

perhaps we need a team of scientologists to run around town listening for parties or for katie h's screaming.

horrific_changeling 12 years ago

thursday's OTS question...Can you explain what a sarahandpad is?

(see ku news poster:sarahandpad)

bearded_gnome 12 years ago

MD, thoughtful you are. this is first and last time to look in on this thread.
yick...discussing the Scientologist's canibalism? yick! where's Hannibal when we need 'em!

Linda Endicott 12 years ago

Scientology only wants extremely wealthy people. If Katie wants out of the "church", all she needs to do is become poor.

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