ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – City councilors passed a measure late last year calling for a “noise camera” pilot project that could help identify and possibly cite drivers with excessively loud cars. Albuquerque Police are working on the project now, but it may still be a while before anything takes shape in the Duke City.
After passing the ordinance in December, councilors initially outlined a six month timeframe to get the test program up and running. Today, the city seemingly still has several decisions to make before starting a pilot, including who will run it, where the noise cameras should go and how drivers could be held accountable.
Albuquerque Police’s Metro-Traffic Division detailed their research into the creation of a pilot program during a May 1 council meeting. While highlighting three other U.S. cities known to be using noise cameras, the department acknowledged there are few existing programs which Albuquerque could model itself after, and the majority are mostly still “in the developmental stage.”
Operationally, New York City’s noise camera initiative is one of the most robust, according to APD. It’s also one of the only known programs with an active enforcement mechanism.
The NYC program uses cameras that capture video after hearing a noise at a distance of 50 feet or more, registering at least 85 decibels (dBA). Any footage captured by the 15-foot high cameras is reviewed by a person to see if there’s a clear violation. If a driver is suspected of violating a noise ordinance, New York’s DEP will send the vehicle registrant a notice, requesting the city inspect the vehicle for noise-related modifications. During that inspection, New York drivers can be fined $220 for a first offense, and even more for a second or third offense.
Two other programs researched by APD lasted roughly a month, including one in downtown Knoxville, TN and another on Longmont, CO, which monitored a freeway and a two-lane road. Neither program is fully operational to a point where drivers are being cited.
“They don’t have a due process plan in place, as well, for how to issue citations for noise violations,” said APD Lt. Chris Patterson, speaking of Longmont’s program. “That seemed to be a common thread that we noticed in our research.”
APD also says they only know of two companies that sell noise cameras: one in Albuquerque called “Not-A-Loud,” and another in Europe. Each of the three programs APD researched used Intelligent Instruments out of Southampton, Hampshire, England.
Responding to the report, downtown-area City Councilor Isaac Benton spoke of prior discussions he’s had about looking into New York City’s inspection-based noise camera program. He also mentioned the idea of partnering with other local existing air quality programs. The Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Air Quality Control Board serves as a joint city-county local authority, while the city administratively operates vehicle emission testing and air quality programs.
“We’ve got some thing we’re doing already where there could be a tie-in to this kind of work,” Benton said. “I think it’s really important information, and we appreciate it.”
It’s unclear exactly what’s next for the project. Albuquerque City Councilor Isaac Benton tells KRQE News 13 that he is asking for the city to do a short-term test using the Albuquerque-based noise camera company. Benton says he doesn’t have a timeline for when that could happen. In terms of cost, APD says the Albuquerque-company is offering a 3-month trial at no cost, while the English company charges $1,500 for a 4-week trial.
The ordinance councilors passed in December directs the city’s various departments to collaborate, then “develop and administer” a pilot project within the first six months of the ordinance’s enactment. The ordinance was signed by the Mayor on December 19, 2022.