City Councillors are split on whether higher fines for illegal fireworks helped lower fireworks complaints over the summer.
“According to Police Chief Brian Kyes, the police department did not issue any fines for fireworks this summer,” said City Manager Thomas Ambrosino. “Nonetheless, Chief Kyes believes strongly that the new ordinance, with its threat of larger financial penalties, was an extremely helpful tool for his officers as they engaged with residents on fireworks complaints. The Chief confirmed that fireworks complaints this year were substantially reduced from the numbers in the summer of 2020.”
Earlier this year, District 1 Councillor Todd Taylor pushed for higher fines of $300 after a frenzy of fireworks complaints hit the city in the summer of 2020.
“I’m not entirely surprised that this is the case,” said Taylor. “I did have a discussion with the City Manager and with the Chief of Police regarding this issue and I believe what they both told me in good faith that the ordinance, the threat of larger fines, was instrumental in reducing the number of people setting off fireworks, especially in the middle of the night. I accept their explanation as to why there were no fines issued.”
However, Taylor said that if the problem persists in the future he would expect the police to issue some fines if necessary.
“Apparently, it wasn’t necessary this year,” said Taylor. “I think we can all agree that there were a lot less fireworks this year and there wasn’t the disruption to people’s sleep during the night that occurred in 2020.”
District 8 Councillor Calvin T. Brown said that he believes a lot of folks got the message when they heard about the larger fines that the city was not going to tolerate the great number of illegal fireworks.
However, District 4 Councillor Enio Lopez said illegal fireworks have continued to be an issue in his district.
“(Brown) mentioned Admiral’s Hill, I guess that didn’t have the complaints that we had in District 6, District 5, and District 4,” said Lopez. “When I talk to the people, they say we should still do the fines. In my district, there were a lot of fireworks.”
Lopez said two weeks ago, there were major fireworks issues in his district.
“I don’t know why no one got a fine when there were fireworks everywhere,” he said.