In recent years, car enthusiasts have taken stereo customization to new heights, in terms of decibels, that is.
Police precincts across the city have been documenting some of the tricked-out sound systems after they confiscate equipment or entire cars — a deterrent that fed-up Queens residents are asking for more and more as summer approaches.
Massive car sound systems have been one of the biggest quality-of-life issues for many police precincts in Queens.
In southwestern Queens, the 104th Precinct commander, Deputy Inspector Louron Hall, has spoken about his officers’ efforts to crack down on the common complaint. Now in South Queens, residents are asking the 106th Precinct to follow suit by means of seizing property. The same noise issues have popped up in the district of Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) as well in recent years.
Photos and videos captured by Queens police precincts and peeved residents depict hatchback doors that swing up to reveal dozens of speakers and subwoofers built into a car.
“People who build their own cars, they make the cars sound more loud so that they can stand out,” said Muhammad Fazan, a mechanic at Auto Sound & Security in Astoria, who added that audio technology has created cheaper ways to build creative sound systems that are far louder than one would need for in-car listening.
“Now I understand that they’re young and it’s a trend, but it’s not culture,” said PJ Marcel, a Howard Beach resident who’s been capturing videos of some of the cars in his neighborhood and alerting police about the noise violations. “I don’t want to hear that it’s OK to blast music at 1 a.m. in residential areas.”
Marcel started a petition to get his police precinct, the 106th, to crack down on the groups of cars that he said regularly gather in the Lindenwood shopping center parking lot.
“WE DEMAND ENFORCEMENT NOW, Fines and confiscation need to be strictly ENFORCED IMMEDIATELY, the realization of this being allowed in residential communities is shocking,” the petition reads.
According to the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings, the police cannot seize a car unless a misdemeanor or a felony has occurred. A noise violation summons alone does not meet that threshold, but some precincts have still found other ways to confiscate speakers.
Hall named Officer Henry Sorto the 104th’s Cop for the Month of May after the officer and his partner tracked down a car that had reportedly racked up over 80 noise complaints in one night. The officers followed it over borough lines into the 90th Precinct in Brooklyn, where they took some pictures and seized the face to the radio “to render it inoperable. And then also as evidence,” according to Hall.
“We can seize equipment, right? We can, we can take it because it’s evidence. So we can take it to show the judge like this is what was observed at the time of the violation,” Hall said.
Maria Asaro, a 106th Precinct community partner, said that in Howard Beach the police have used a strategy of staking out spots like the Linden Center where cars are known to congregate and forcing them out.
“As far as a solution, there’s still ongoing conversations. A deterrent at the very least would mean a police presence in the area,” said Asaro.
Some more conscientious auto clubs have pointed out that more communication between local precincts and clubs could be mutually beneficial. Asaro said that the precinct has reached out to various auto clubs, but didn’t have more specific information.
Hall said that he would be open to initiating communication with car clubs, but he’s noticed that some set up a covert way of organizing meetups to avoid detection.
“It’s a reoccurring problem to the point where at times we have to take enforcement just to try to dissuade this type of behavior,” he said.