Longmont to explore sound camera technology; no tickets would be issued during the trial run
The Longmont Department of Public Safety will use sound camera technology during a four-week trial period to control excessive automobile noise throughout the city, but on Main Street in particular.
“It literally works like speed camera or red light radar,” Longmont Senior Police Officer David Kennedy said Wednesday. “The only difference is that this device measures sound.”
When a vehicle’s engine, stereo or exhaust system exceeds a certain decibel level, the radar records a short video – with audio – of the offender’s license plate, which can then be used to broadcast a citation by mail.
Kennedy said sound cameras can determine which vehicle is making an unreasonably loud noise even if multiple cars and trucks are on the roadway at the time.
In Longmont, the decibel threshold allowed depends on the time of day and the zoning area of the city, whether residential, commercial or industrial. However, enforcement has been difficult, if not impossible, given the lack of sound measurement devices in the city.
After learning about the emergence of sound cameras in other cities across the United States and Europe, public safety officials contacted a UK-based company called 24 Acoustics to bring the technology to Longmont.
In the coming weeks, 24 Acoustics will send Longmont Public Safety a sound camera to deploy at different locations in the city.
The trial will cost around $1,500, and Kennedy pointed out that during the four-week period, no tickets would be issued. Instead, the department hopes to collect as much noise violation data as possible and assess whether the program would even be feasible in Longmont.
“The Board, just to be clear, has not committed to these cameras,” Kennedy said. “The only thing they allowed us to do was test out one of the company’s cameras.”
It’s unclear where Public Safety intends to test the sound camera technology other than several locations around the city.
It’s also unclear how much a citation for excessive noise would cost.
“The problem we have is that we would be the first city in Colorado and the first city that I know of … on the western side of the United States to try this technology,” Longmont Public Safety Chief Zach Ardis said. August 23. City Council meeting in response to a question about the cost of a citation.
The sound cameras would operate 24/7 and allow officers to focus on priority calls rather than excessive noise violations.
If the Council ultimately approves the devices, each camera would cost approximately $31,000 to purchase, plus maintenance costs.
“Something is better than nothing,” Pro Tem Mayor Aren Rodriguez said during Tuesday’s council meeting. “I’m very excited about the possibility of…these cameras.”