Added enforcement, community outreach and greater engagement with residents are among the ways Westminster police hope to encourage a safe Independence Day.
After complaints about illegal fireworks mounted last year, police said they are putting a concerted effort toward target offenders while also launching a public awareness campaign to warn residents of the consequences of using outlawed fireworks.
“We’ve had complaints about people’s animals being harmed by noise or illegal fireworks hitting roofs in neighborhoods,” said Westminster Cmdr. Cameron Knauerhaze. “We want to be proactive in enforcement before a tragedy happens.”
Knauerhaze said illegal fireworks are not only dangerous, but they also pull much-needed police resources off the streets during a busy holiday.
Some illegal varieties require special booking procedures that can take extensive time and may even require the assistance of the Orange County Bomb Squad, he said.
“Officers need to be available for emergency calls and routine calls for service,” he said. “We’re hoping with the public’s assistance we can minimize, if not eliminate, illegal firework activity.”
Extra enforcement for illegal fireworks will include plain-clothes officers and added patrol units monitoring neighborhoods, along with representatives from the city’s code enforcement unit ready to cite and fine offenders.
Fines for illegal fireworks can range from $500 to $5,000, according to the city.
Police also have plans to monitor local block parties, which need special permits approved by the department.
This year, officers are reaching out to residents to remind them of the city rules regarding fireworks.
“We are just calling neighbors to let them know we will be out there, and let them know if they use illegal fireworks it may jeopardize their chance of getting a block party permit approved in the future,” Knauerhaze said. “It’s just an extra measure we are taking.
“We want everyone to have a safe and sane Fourth of July this year.”
Here’s what you need to know about safe and sane fireworks in Westminster:
– The city issues a maximum of 15 firework booth permits every year
– Safe and sane fireworks can be sold from June 30 to July 4.
– Legal fireworks are only allowed to be discharged on July 4.
– Residents must be at least 16 years old to buy and discharge state-approved fireworks.
– Illegal fireworks include firecrackers, sky rockets, M-1000s and roman candles, among other varieties. Approved fireworks contain a California state seal.
– Legal fireworks may be discharged on residential streets, and must be set off at least 10 feet away from any homes or structures.
– Residents are responsible for cleaning up any firework debris.