August 5, 1997 -- Brad Berson
Joining recent anti-motorcycle efforts in Jackson, New Jersey and in White Plains, New
York, the Police in Oceanside, Long Island are singling out and harassing motorcyclists.
Targeting visitors to Nathan's regular Tuesday night "hang", on Tuesday July
29th, the Hempstead Police installed a checkpoint southbound on Long Beach Road
immediately approaching the entrance to Nathan's. This checkpoint was marked by a sign
saying "Nassau County Sobriety Checkpoint", but the traffic stop had nothing to
do with sobriety and definitely had nothing to do with anything but motorcycles.
Armed with an SPL (sound pressure or "dB") meter, the officers went about
enforcing a "local noise ordinance" of 72 dB. Loud cars were ignored, but all
manner of motorcycles were pulled over wholesale. If you were riding too close to someone
with a "loud" bike, you were pulled over too. Guilt by association, and loosely
at that! Police pulled over as many motorcycles as they could fit into the parking lot
they commandeered for the purpose.
The "local noise ordinance" is an arbitrary figure that has nothing to do
with DOT standards, nor any other standard, and the noise tests (observed and photographed
by Brad Berson) were conducted unscientifically in an echoing back-alley with the noise
meter placed varying distances from the bike and/or exhaust system.
Police at the scene brazenly posed for photographs and boasted that in NY State they
have the right to single out any vehicle they please. Mentions of constitutional
implications and references to probable cause went un-answered. The Police maintained the
roadblock for the duration of the evening.
Jackson NJ - home of Six Flags Great Adventure - recently redirected DOT funds intended
for alcohol awareness publicity at motorcycle events in order to pay for its
motorcycle-only traffic stops.
Westchester NY's Police Department is currently targeted in a class-action law suit for
recently targeting motorcycles travelling to Danbury CT's "Super Sunday". For
more information see http://www.moto-mag.com/news/blacksunday.html .
In spite of these motorcycle-harrassment stops, police were only able to issue
statistically unremarkable numbers of summonses. This only proves again that their efforts
would be better spent sticking to finding drunks drivers and criminals no matter how many
wheels they choose to use.