Tracy police cited the use of a drones and a “social host ordinance” as effective tools in the enforcement of illegal fireworks in Tracy during the Fourth of July holiday in an informational report presented to the Tracy City Council Tuesday evening.
Cpt. Luis Mejia said the police department was tasked with enforcement of illegal fireworks offenses and provide security at Fourth of July events including a fireworks show at Kimball High School.
The city council adopted the social host ordinance in 2020. The local law (TMC Chapter 3.04) allows police to arrest or cite a “responsible party,” which could be a person who owns or rents the private property where illegal fireworks are discharged, a person deemed to be in control of that private property, or the person police believe to be in possession and control of the illegal fireworks. The municipal code notes that the responsible party need not be on the scene at the time of the violation to be cited.
In the days leading up to the Fourth of July the police deployed an additional patrol squad specifically for illegal fireworks related calls. On the holiday an additional three squads were brought in throughout the day, one for the downtown parade, another for the fireworks show at Kimball and the third to deal with calls for illegal fireworks during the evening hours with drones a part of the enforcement.
Between January and July 5 the police fielded 479 fireworks-related calls with 330 of the calls coming between July1 and July 5.
“We also used the use of drones to identify locations and it’s proving beneficial and consistent with what other departments have seen,” Mejia said.
Additional dispatchers were also brought in to help with the anticipated higher volume of calls.
Mejia said the enforcement led to 14 misdemeanor arrests and 43 administrative cases referred to the city attorney’s office for fines.
“It’s the highest number we’ve ever had since the implementation of the social host ordinance,” Mejia said. “In comparison we only had seven cites last year for that ordinance so that’s a huge improvement from last year.
Currently the penalty for the first administrative fine is $100.
The department said for next year they increase the use of professional staff to augment patrol officers, increase the use of drone teams for illegal fireworks enforcement and encourage patrol units to use the social host citations.
Increasing the penalties for a using illegal fireworks is also an option but would require the City Council to do so as would a fireworks mitigation fee.
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