Queens councilman criticizes NYPD for lack of action regarding noise complaints

Councilman Robert Holden (QNS file photo by Max Parrott)

Councilman Robert Holden is calling on the NYPD to take noise complaints more seriously since he said it has been a persistent and unresolved problem in his district. 

Holden often gets complaints from constituents about late-night parties or neighbors, but he sprang into action when he experienced it himself. The councilman said he was up into the early hours of the morning when one of his neighbors blasted music until 3 a.m. 

Instead of using his connections as a city councilman to stop the party, Holden decided to call 311 as any of his constituents would. He said the police failed to take any meaningful action. 

“I didn’t want to invoke my standing as a Council member. I wanted to experience what my constituents experience,” Holden said. “And I sure did; I got a good lesson.”

Noise code penalties range from fines of $250 to $1,000. However, in Holden’s case, no fines were administered to the neighbors on his block. 

“Why are we giving people who are disturbing the peace the benefit of the doubt? Summons them. That’s the only message they are going to understand. Anybody so callous as to play music that loud — you have to pay the price,” Holden said.

Holden said he plans on introducing legislation that will increase fines.

“When people can’t sleep, it affects their health,” Holden said. “I learned that the hard way.”

In an effort to ensure the NYPD takes complaints seriously, Holden requested the commanding officer of the 104th Precinct provide the number of noise complaints and summonses issued in 2020 and 2021.

“My constituents take quality-of-life issues seriously and expect the city to be responsive,” Holden wrote in a letter to Commanding Officer Louron Hall. “Understanding the numbers will allow us to assess whether or not our noise mitigation strategies are working year over year. Working together, we will reduce unnecessary noise throughout the district.”

NYPD told QNS that the 104th Precinct takes “strict enforcement actions” when anyone is found to be responsible for excessive noise.

“During the year of 2021, the 104th Precinct issued 60 summonses relating to noise compared to one summons in 2020.  Fifty-six of the summonses were issues in regards to noise from vehicles, two summonses were issued in regards to noise from the street/sidewalk, one summons issued in regards to residential noise and one summons issued in regards to commercial noise,” the NYPD statement said. “The 104th Precinct takes all quality-of-life complaints seriously and will continue to monitor and address all complaints.”

The councilman has a history of prioritizing quality-of-life issues. He said this tracks back to his time as the Juniper Park Civic Association president. 

“We lead the city in 311 complaints, and I’m proud of that,” Holden said. “As a civic president, that’s how we maintain a neighborhood people want to live in; that’s why we can walk the streets at night and feel safe. Quality of life is by far number one in my office.”

Holden also recently introduced a bill that would target illegal pop-up parties after multiple gatherings in the old Midville Hardware store resulted in two shootings and dozens of noise complaints.

“We’re seeing this illegal activity starting up,” Holden said. “It’s taking over our commercial districts and affecting our quality of life. Not only our quality with noise but also with crime.”

Story updated Friday, Nov. 19, at 1:45 p.m.