Appeared in the Sun Times Beacon News on May 31, 2009
Lt. Kristen Ziman - Columnist
Put end to things that go thump, day and night
Mother Nature has been teasing us with sporadic warm days for two months, but soon a consistent warmth will settle in and summer will be here. The gentle sound of birds chirping will sing a duet with our alarm clocks as we wake to meet the world. We will dust off our bikes, get out the gardening tools and soak up every ray of sunshine, because we know the summer months pass too fast. We will rush home from work and fire up the grill. The sound of laughter will emit from the neighborhood children while the steaks sizzle and...THUMP! THUMP! THUMP!
The summer scene is thwarted by cars driving through neighborhoods with their stereos thumping so all the world can "share" in the melody of rap and hip-hop. Before you scold me for generalization of this particular genre, I will speak only to my experience in that I have never heard Kenny G or Garth Brooks past a certain decibel from a passing vehicle.
Don't get me wrong, I'm a lover of music and have even been known to bust a rhyme in sync with LL Cool J's "I Need Love" (don't test me -- I know every word). However, I enjoy my music in my own vehicle and even with the windows rolled down, you probably wouldn't hear Neil Diamond's "Forever in Blue Jeans" blasting from my stereo, because I keep the volume at a reasonable level (and because I am deeply, deeply embarrassed about loving Neil Diamond).
I would never dream of subjecting other drivers who are stopped helplessly beside me at a stoplight to my music. You may, however, have to endure the disturbing visual of me using my cell phone as a microphone, but rest assured, you won't hear a thing.
This is not about my questionable taste in music, but rather about the quality-of-life issues that test the patience of Aurora residents. When I speak with residents, I am often astounded their most pressing complaints are issues regarding the peacefulness of their neighborhoods.
Excessive noise from loud parties, car stereos and barking dogs top the list of complaints. Violent crime has been greatly reduced in recent years, so the communities have begun to recognize these quality-of-life issues and have turned to the police for help. No one wants to sit inside their house and feel it shake as a result of the bass coming from a passing vehicle, and no one wants to hear it three car lengths away, no matter what the genre.
If the noise problem is coming from a neighbor's house, I always suggest speaking with the neighbor before you involve the police. Sometimes honest concern and a respectful request will curb the problem. If it doesn't, call the police department's non-emergency number (630-859-1700 if you live in Aurora). Oftentimes, the stereo volume gets turned down with a little encouragement from your local law enforcement. Quite honestly, we would rather tackle the sub-woofers with the hip-hop blaring than deal with street violence, any day of the week.
If the police do get involved, thumpers beware. The price to pay for subjecting others to your music can be quite costly. If your noise can be heard from 75 feet away, you will most likely be issued a $75 ordinance ticket and your vehicle will be towed and impounded. It will cost you $250 to get the vehicle back, not including the ticket, tow or any storage costs. I'm no mathemagician, but those numbers add up to nearly $500.
Imagine all the Neil Diamond albums you could buy with that.
If you have any topics or questions that you would like Aurora police Lt. Kristen Ziman to address, e-mail them to Kristen Ziman@gmail.com.