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Council passes new penalties for illegal fireworks

MARYSVILLE As expected, City Council on May 27 passed new rules allowing police to address the illegal use of fireworks in the city as a civil offense.
Although the potential $500 fine is less than the possible criminal penalties, several officials said they expect enforcement of fireworks rules to increase.
I think we will be out there a little stronger, said Police Chief Rick Smith in regards to councils actions. This addresses everything we needed to address.
Smith said what the new rules mainly accomplish is to give police an alternative to slapping alleged fireworks offenders with a criminal citation. Several City Council members said police were sometimes hesitant to hand out such offenses, possibly burdening the suspect with a criminal record for blowing off the wrong types of fireworks.
City Council members also said criminal citations take police a lot longer to process than civil violations. According to City Councilwoman Carmen Rasmussen, among others, thats time officials feel police could put to better use.
Police still will have the option of citing fireworks offenders with either a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor. A normal misdemeanor carries with it penalties of up to $1,000 in fines and 90 days in jail. The harsher gross misdemeanor charge can result in a $5,000 fine and up to one year in jail.
For the most part, police likely will aim the civil penalty at first time offenders with small quantities of illegal fireworks. Persons police deem gross offenders or those with three or more civil violations with in a given number of years likely will receive one of the criminal penalties.
Certain types of fireworks are legal to use on two days in the city, namely between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. on July 4 and also during certain hours on New Years Eve. However, officials said the number of fireworks complaints around the New Year holiday are small compared to those reaching police around July 4. With that holiday still some time off, a few fireworks enthusiasts apparently are in a hurry to get started.
I heard them going off already, Mayor Dennis Kendall said during the May 27 council session. It isnt even in to June and the stands arent open yet.
As most residents know, fireworks stands appear in large numbers on the Tulalip Reservation as July 4 approaches. Stands also appear on street corners and in other spots in Marysville.
City Community Information Officer Doug Buell said the city has several avenues to take in spreading the word about the new $500 fine. The city regularly makes fliers explaining local fireworks laws available for distribution by fireworks sellers.
Buell also said the city will have an updated version of the rules on its Web site at ci.marysville.wa.us.
According to the city Web site, illegal fireworks include firecrackers, rockets of virtually any type and cherry bombs. Large sized explosives commonly known as M-80s or M-100s also are illegal. Also against the rules are what the city calls salutes and tennis ball bombs.

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