By Tawny Clary
With all the wildfires this year, the entire state was on edge in the days leading up to Independence Day. Although illegal in the city, fireworks could be heard in the middle of the night for weeks before the holiday. As it happens every year, for every firework fuse lit, another fuse gets lit – under an aggravated citizen. This keeps the phone lines plenty busy for local police stations, and this year was no different. As long as counties continue to allow the sale of fireworks and individual cities outlaw the use of fireworks, this will keep police busy. Naturally, calls will continue to ring in and violations will continue to be made.
“If we catch you lighting fireworks, we’re gonna’ write you up for it….” said Agent Ty Countryman of the Lakewood Police Department, days before the 4th of July.
Countryman has been with the Lakewood Police Department for 26 years and believes there have been many positive changes over the years to help with the load of calls and violations that take place in the days leading up to the 4th and thereafter. One extra tool has been a whole extra group hired specifically for the holiday.
Countryman says they “send out a group just for firework enforcement [usually] on the 3rd, 4th and 5th.” He points out the specific days can vary per year depending on what day of the week the holiday falls on. According to Countryman, the group/department is typically put together to handle complaint calls, patrol neighborhoods and basically let the community “know we are out there.” While the additional help is brought in for those days, Countryman says the calls tend to last for weeks through the end of July.
It has been around 10 years since the additional 4th of July help was added. Countryman feels as though the call load has not changed much, which makes the extra hands really useful. However, he does think that having both organized defense and events planned by the cities has helped the numbers go down some. One example was the Big Boom Bash put on by Lakewood this year. And social media has been a great platform to getting the word out about fireworks.