MARYSVILLE Police could have a new tool to fight illegal fireworks and reduce the illegal discharge of other products if the Marysville City Council acts on a recommendation to incorporate civil penalties for offenders.
The Council discussed the potential change to city ordinances at its regular session Monday.
The July 9 meeting did not have as many irate complainers as last year and nobody brought sheaves of spent fireworks to throw on the table as they usually do, but the Council heard citizen complaints and discussed options to reduce or eliminate fireworks in the city.
Why dont we ban fireworks? asked resident Steven Marlo. Do the Tulalips tell Marysville what to do?
The retired Hollywood actor said he had to spend the holiday at his daughters Arlington home to get away from the noise and noted cities such as Seattle, Tacoma and Everett where fireworks are banned completely.
We have no control over what they sell, Mayor Dennis Kendall responded, referring to Boom City on the Tulalip Indian Reservation.
The eight licensed booths in the city sold only safe and sane fireworks, he added, and cities with complete bans still face the same problems Marysville does. Proximity to the areas largest fireworks depot just amplifies problems faced in many other jurisdictions and Kendall said police were working on the problem all throughout the Fourth of July holiday.
Marysville Police responded to 153 fireworks related complaints over four days and issued 12 criminal citations. They were also investigating one arson, according to police chief Rick Smith.
We are following up with the fire marshals office, Smith said. We were very busy.
So we had extra patrols out trying to deal with this, Kendall added. Thats something that were going to continue to work with. Were very concerned. I dont enjoy it, my dog doesnt enjoy it.
Smith said that he wants the department to be proactive and not reactive, and suggested a change in the city code that would allow officers the ability to issue civil penalties. Currently an officer can only issue a criminal citation, but Smith would like them to have the discretion to levy civil infractions that carry a lower burden of proof but could pack a larger financial impact.
That provides us with a little more flexibility, Smith told the council. The change wouldnt apply to illegal fireworks, however. I dont want them on our side.
The ability to issue civil citations would be more fair and equitable, especially for an otherwise law-abiding citizen who was lighting legal fireworks, but not in the legal time frame provided under city ordinance. Issuing a misdemeanor in a case like that causes me personally a little bit of angst, Smith said because that gives the offender a criminal record.
When it gets people is when it hits the wallet, Smith said.
There was an immediate reduction in fireworks problems when his previous jurisdiction, Vancouver, Washington, made the change. He said such a change should also help around New Years as well.
Councilwoman Carmen Rasmussen said the city needs to work on educating citizens, suggesting signs for people to see as they leave the Tulalip Indian Reservation telling them what types of fireworks are illegal in the city. She noted that many of her neighbors werent aware they were lighting illegal products.
Most people are happy to follow the law, they just dont know they are breaking it, Rasmussen.
Smith agreed, suggesting the city use the schools to help teach kids about what is legal and what isnt.
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