NYC's Department of 'SHHHHH!'


The New York City Department of Environmental Protection has begun to enforce a noise ordinance passed 18 months ago:

With his Mister Softee ice cream truck parked in a familiar spot, its presence announced by a sprightly metallic jingle, Costas Vamvakas was having a good day on Wednesday, the holiday business brisk despite the drab weather. But then two men pulled up in an unmarked car from the Department of Environmental Protection.

It was Mr. Vamvakas's first encounter with the city's noise police, a contingent that includes 45 environmental agents and thousands of regular police officers who are enforcing a sweeping new noise code that took effect on Sunday. Mr. Vamvakas, 24, who is part owner of a Mister Softee franchise in Queens with 11 trucks, had failed to turn off his truck's jingle when he parked at the curb, as is now required of all ice cream trucks.

The fine is $350.

While New York City's crime rate has been consistently falling in recent years, has it become so safe that "thousands of regular police officers" are relegated to chasing parked ice-cream trucks?

Granted, I oversimplify. They're targeting air conditioners too:

Barking dogs, heavy construction, garbage trucks, nightclubs, personal stereos, poorly muffled motorcycles and loud air-conditioners are all covered.

So 894 noise complaints in four days can now compete for the attention of New York's Finest with the 2340 felony complaints of the previous week.

Lesson: While catching murderers, thieves, and rapists is important, it is not nearly as lucrative as turning off grandma's air conditioner in the middle of the summer.