Friday, January 14, 2005

More on Noise

HB 68 had its public hearing yesterday. This legislation has two components.

The first part expands the definition of the types of noise for which an individual could be cited for disturbing the peace.

The second section does away with the existing requirement that a third person, i.e., someone other than the police officer and the alleged noisemaker, lodge a complaint. Under the revisions contained in HB 68, a police officer would be considered a reasonable person for purposes of determining whether the noise was problematic.

As someone who has had to endure the "Elm Street Serenade" of throbbing car stereos and Harleys with modified pipes, I welcome anything that helps law enforcement get a better handle on the problem.

My only real misgiving was with language that defined offending noise not only as loud and unreasonable, but "unusual". This is dangerously vague. I own a few albums by Black 47. Black 47 is a band from New York that plays a mix of funk, hip-hop, alt rock and traditional Irish folk. By any fair definition, this is unusual. However, I don't think that playing "Funky Ceili" or "Forty Shades of Blue" should, in and of itself, saddle me with a violation.

I was named to a subcommittee that will work on the bill next week, and it is probably safe to say that this overly vague provision will be removed. There are a few other relatively minor wording changes that the Attorney General's office suggested as well. In all probability, we should have this bill cleaned up and out of committee before the end of January.

Let me extend a word of thanks to Assistant Attorney General Anne Rice, Goffstown Police Chief Mike French and Manchester Police Captain David Mara for their advice and suggestions.