The UCLA Police Department responds to noise complaints from UCLA students, staff and faculty on the UCLA campus and the adjacent residential areas as quickly as resources allow. It would be difficult to cover every possible scenario regarding noise complaints so these are some general guidelines to consider. It is important to keep in mind that the officers’ actions are guided by the law and department policy.
THE LAW – CALIFORNIA PENAL CODE § 415
California Penal Code § 415 is the general section that covers noise complaints. It states in part: "Any of the following persons shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail...
(2) Any person who maliciously and willfully disturbs another person by loud and unreasonable noise.
DETERMINING LOUD AND UNREASONABLE NOISE
To determine what constitutes a loud and unreasonable noise, the first step is to decide if it is a communication. Communications are words, shouting or cheering that are intended to convey ideas and they are generally protected by the First Amendment (freedom of speech). On the other hand, a loud noise such as a motorcycle revving at 3:00 a.m. is not communication. Neither is shouting which is done for the purpose of disruption. A loud family fight during the night would also fit in this category. Although these examples technically involve communication, it is not the type protected by the First Amendment.
If the noise is not a communication and, based on the time, place or manner in which it is made, is the kind of noise that would disturb a reasonable person, enforcement action by the police is justified if someone was disturbed by it. Even if the noise is a communication, it can still be unreasonable based on time, place or manner in which the ideas are expressed.
To justify enforcement action by officers in these situations, the time, place or manner must be such that (1) a clear and present danger of violence exists or (2) the purported communication is used as a guise to disrupt lawful endeavors (e.g., political speeches, religious services, etc.).
HOW TO MAKE A COMPLAINT
If you are a UCLA student, staff or faculty member calling to report a noisy party or group call dispatch at (310) 825-1491. You should be willing to provide your full name, phone number and address in the event the officer needs to contact you for additional information. You must also be willing to be considered the victim for purposes of being the named person disturbed by the loud and unreasonable noise if an arrest is made. If you do agree to be the complainant, the Communications Center will obtain the information regarding the complaint and send officers to the location as a call for service. Your information is not disclosed to the violators.
If you do not want to provide your name or are unwilling to be considered a victim for purposes of being the named person disturbed by the loud and unreasonable noise, the Communications Center will usually obtain the information about where it is happening and broadcast the information to officers as ‘Information Only.’ The officers will not respond to these complaints if you want to remain anonymous or you do not want to be considered a victim. Do not call the anonymous tip message line for noise complaints. Your message will not be received in a timely manner to address your complaint.
WHAT OFFICERS WILL DO
Upon arriving at the location, officers usually will proceed with their investigation consistent with the law and department policy in determining if there is a violation. Typically the officers will knock at the door and announce their presence to the residents. The officers will advise the resident(s) of the complaint and attempt to get their cooperation in mitigating or eliminating the source of the noise. Usually, the residents cooperate and the noise complaint is resolved.
The officers also have the discretion to have the residents stop the source of the noise immediately, end a noisy party immediately, cite the resident(s) for Los Angeles Municipal Code § 41.57 (a)(1) and/or arrest the residents for violation of California Penal Code § 415.