Sentinel staff report–
Citrus Heights police had a busy night on July 4, responding to over 150 calls for service from residents reporting illegal fireworks in various parts of the city.
In a report to the city council on Thursday night, Police Lt. Ryan Kinnan said the department had deployed seven additional police officers and a Metro Fire arson investigator on July 3, and an additional two police officers on July 4, to help handle the added call volume that historically surrounds the Independence Day holiday. Referencing a fireworks heat map of the city, Kinnan showed most calls coming from the Antelope-Sunrise area around Oak Avenue, as well as near Lichen Drive, around Van Maren Lane and Auburn Boulevard, and the area north of Rusch Park.
Each year the Citrus Heights Police Department provides a report on fireworks activity to the city council, tracking calls for service from June 28 through July 5 — the period during which “safe and sane” fireworks sales are legal in the city. In 2014, CHPD reported 139 calls being received, which dropped to 126 the following year, and then spiked to 306 calls for service in 2016.
Compared to 2017, calls increased by about 15%, from 188 last year up to 221 calls this year.
Between the peak period of July 3-5 this year, Kinnan said roughly half of the calls resulted in someone being contacted by an officer, about a quarter came in as general “be on the lookout” calls without a specific location, and the remaining calls were duplicates or deemed “unable to locate” or “gone on arrival.”
Two residents addressed the city council during Thursday’s meeting, both expressing concern about fireworks in the city.
Resident David Warren said he watched young people lighting off fireworks in dry grass near Sylvan Oaks Library and said the city should increase the number of additional police officers on the streets around July 4 in following years.
Resident Sue Stack said she was out in her yard with garden hoses on July 4 as a precaution and said she felt illegal fireworks have been on the rise ever since the Sunrise Mall discontinued its fireworks show in 2012.
“This year, from what I’ve heard from people and experienced myself, was worse than last year, and last year was worse than the year before, and the year before,” said Stack. “I think after we stopped the fireworks show at Sunrise Mall, that’s when people decided that they’re gonna do ’em in their backyard.”
As a solution, she proposed having an annual Fourth of July show at Rusch Park or Sunrise Mall — suggesting Intel’s drone light show. Her proposal appeared to be met with interest from Mayor Steve Miller, who told her “we’ll definitely look at this” and said he liked “the idea of a show on the Fourth of July to keep everybody busy.”
Despite an increase in calls for service, Lt. Kinnan told The Sentinel no confiscations of illegal fireworks were made this year, while the department reported confiscating about 70 pounds of fireworks last year. Police Chief Ron Lawrence previously told the council that the city’s fireworks ordinance, which bans aerial and explosive varieties of fireworks, is difficult for officers to enforce.
“The enforcement of this becomes a real challenge because when we get complaints of fireworks in progress, more often than not, by the time we arrive, they’ve already been expended,” he told the council last year. “And then, if those are still in progress, there’s typically 20 or 30 people standing around watching so we have to prove who actually did the ignition.”
Vice Mayor Jeannie Bruins, noting she was aware of people bringing illegal fireworks from Nevada into California, suggested during the meeting that police look into working with the California Highway Patrol to see if screening for illegal fireworks around the Fourth of July could be conducted at the state border, in a similar way that is currently done for fruit. “That just seems to me like something that would make a lot of sense,” she said.
Kinnan replied that the idea was “certainly something we can talk to our partners about [and] see if it’s generating any concepts or discussions with them.”
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