Crestwood amends animal noise ordinance to streamline referral process at chief’s suggestion

Witnesses required under amended noise ordinance

Crestwood City Hall

Photo by Gloria Lloyd

Crestwood City Hall

By Lucas Irizarry, Staff Reporter

Crestwood’s excessive animal noise ordinance was amended to streamline the referral process at the board’s meeting July 27. 

The new amendment allows police or code enforcement officers to directly issue a notice of violation to owners of excessively barking dogs with probable cause. Those notices can then be sent to the municipal prosecuting attorney for consideration of charges. The same change allows a signed complaint to act as probable cause. 

The amendment was proposed by Police Chief Jonathan Williams after suggesting a similar change at the board’s June meeting. The aldermen voted 5-0 to approve the change.

Much of the public comments about the ordinance were about the impact of requiring a witness on these complaints.

Madonna Lowell, Crestwood resident, said the person who owned her house before was what people call the “crazy neighbor.” She said an excessive animal noise complaint was filed against them, and the witness who provided their information faced retaliation from the “crazy neighbor.”

“(The crazy neighbor’s) kid made a daily habit of throwing junk on their roof, riding through their flowerbeds and most disturbingly … poured gasoline all over their yard,” Lowell said. “The elderly neighbor never called the police again because this is what happens when residents … become the focus of the crazy neighbor.”

Lowell said the board doesn’t understand what requiring a witness can mean for people in a neighborhood, such as becoming the focus of a “crazy neighbor.” 

Williams said it can be tough for police to address these issues without a witness because they often don’t see or hear the dog barking when arriving on scene.

“In my experience, when an officer gets there, the dog has been put inside or the barking has stopped,” Williams said. “If at that moment we don’t witness anything, we can’t summon that person. The person making the complaint, if they want something done with it, they have to sign as the witness.”

Essentially, the municipal court needs a witness, whether that be a police officer or a citizen. 

Crestwood resident Virginia Harris said she appreciates the ordinance including quantifications like a 10-minute limit on barking at specific hours of the day.

“I do want to thank the board for quantifying the nuisance ordinance. It’s like you can see a speed limit, you can see a stop sign, you know when you’ve broken the law,” Harris said.