Panama City Beach - Panama City Beach's new noise ordinance is now in effect. The council voted to move forward with the new sound limits during Thursday's meeting, agreeing to put the new rule in place Friday.
The ordinance is complaint-driven which means officers aren't patrolling to find violators, they are waiting until someone calls with a complaint, then they will respond. While NewsChannel 7 was riding along with Officer Christopher Brennan Friday, the department didn't receive any noise complaints. Of course it's important to note that according to Panama City Beach Police Chief Robert Harding, most noise complaints come in after 10 o'clock. We were just curious to see if the new ordinance was having an effect on the first night it's in place. So far, it appears to be business as usual.
But the department is prepared. Four officers per shift are trained to use the new high tech sound meters. Officers spent the past couple months recording noise levels around the beach to determine what is acceptable. The ordinance's legal noise levels vary, depending on an area's ambient noise.
Officer Brennan says the new ordinance helps law enforcement officers do their job. "When we go to enforce the rules we can have it on paper and show it to the managers of the business. In the past we haven't had the ordinance backing us so it was kind of like, you know I'm saying I'm going to do this and they know better. They knew the ordinance wasn't in effect so we didn't have anything backing us. Now with them realizing the ordinance is there we have the power to enforce it and we will."
Brennan says most noise complaints come from locals. He says he hopes the ordinance strikes a balance between allowing the tourists and concert-goers to enjoy themselves and allowing residents to enjoy living here.