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Police: new fireworks law had desired effect
MARYSVILLE The numbers aren't huge admitted Cmdr. Rob Lamoureux of the Marysville Police Department.
Still, he said the numbers are significantly higher than in past years.
Armed for the first time with the ability to write civil citations for fireworks offenses, Lamoureux said police handed out 12 such citations in the days leading up to the July 4 holiday. They also gave out four criminal citations, also for fireworks offenses.
In past years, Lamoureux said police generally wrote two to four fireworks citations in total.
So-called "safe and sane" fireworks are legal in Marysville during specific hours only on July 4 and New Years Eve. Carrying with them the possibility of a $500 fine, the civil citations were given for alleged use of fireworks outside of the specified times.
Lamoureux said police issued criminal citations to anyone allegedly using prohibited fireworks, such as firecrackers and bottle rockets. One of those criminal citations went to an unidentified suspect who Lamoureux said lit off what he described as an "amazing" string of fireworks that stretched for yards.
"Nobody had ever seen anything like it," Lamoureux said.
Police allege the suspect attempted to light the huge string in the area of Grove Street, behind a State Avenue convenience store. Lamoureux was quick to note the proximity of the spot to the Marysville police headquarters.
Because of the number of firecrackers, Washington State Patrol officers immediately hauled away the over-sized string of fireworks. In a picture taken by police, the string filled about half of the back seat of a highway patrol car. Lamoureux said the firecrackers may have been worth approximately $1,000.
Criminal fireworks citations are considered either misdemeanors or gross misdemeanors. Normal misdemeanors carry the potential of a $1,000 fine and up to 90 days in jail. The harsher gross misdemeanor charge can result in a $5,000 fine and up to a year in jail.
With the backing of police and the city administration, City Council created the new civil citations for fireworks last month. Officials said the idea was to give police an alternative to criminal charges, charges they were sometimes hesitant to hand out for a fairly routine fireworks offense.
More than ready to dole out the civil citations, prior to the July 4 holiday, Police Chief Rick Smith stated police would be "out there a little stronger." Lamoureux said police did in fact have extra patrols on city streets July 2 to July 5.
"We are pleased with the events surrounding the July 4 holiday," Lamoureux said.
All in all, Lamoureux added the department received 157 fireworks complaints. He said that number is down significantly from prior years.
"That in and of itself is a positive," Lamoureux said.
By his way of thinking, the numbers mean residents got the word regarding the civil citations and the police department's intent to use the new tool to maximum effect.
In addition to that huge string of firecrackers, police also confiscated a modest amount of prohibited fireworks, mostly bottle rockets and more firecrackers. They also took in some legal fireworks as the owners of those fireworks also allegedly had banned devices.
According to Lamoureux, the state will haul away all confiscated fireworks and destroy them.