Why do the police say they can’t do anything about noise?

Calling the police and hearing an unfortunately common refrain, “well there’s nothing that the police can do” exacerbates community noise problems.

First, don’t argue with the police.  You are frustrated and angry but arguing does nothing (and may make things worse).

Second, currently, Pennsylvania still leaves noise control to local communities and municipalities. Generally, the police have little general ability to cite people for noise—limited exceptions do apply such as traffic/vehicle noise (67 Pa.Code 157.11), disorderly conduct (18 Pa.C.S. 5503), and harassment (18 Pa.C.S. 2709).

Some communities maintain a noise ordinance or a nuisance ordinance (nuisance used here in the legal sense, not your own opinion of what a nuisance is). Contacting the municipality may help. The police can enforce some noise ordinances, depending on how the ordinance was written, but a code enforcement officer or health officer enforces others with a special procedure.

Third, if no ordinance, politely do your research, contact an attorney, and suggest a model noise ordinance for your community. A concerned community member with relevant information and suggested solutions who politely appears at a public meeting may help carry the day–moreso if your neighbors also appear.