The Perry Police Department received 56 calls regarding fireworks this year, a number that nearly doubles last year’s calls pertaining the usage of fireworks in the Perry area. According to Chief of Police, Eric Vaughn, the 56 calls first began around June 16, with a bulk coming in during the week of the the Fourth.
“Usage definitely went up and I think there were plenty of complaints that could have been made,” Chief Eric Vaughn said. “I think part of that is the short notice we got to try to inform the public about the usage in the city.”
Following the legalization of recreational fireworks, towns began to create their own ordinances as a way to set limits to usage as well as protect designated areas such as public parks and hospitals.
The Perry City Council created and enacted the fireworks ordinance on May 6, approving the amendment of the Chapter 125 fireworks code. Perry created a time slot for fireworks, however, lasting from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. on the Fourth of July.
Those who participated in the recreational usage of fireworks had to follow the following regulations: must meet an age limit of at least 18 years old, fireworks are only allowed on private property unless given consent from additional property owner, patrons must not be above the legal alcohol limit or be under the influence of drugs or narcotics, and fireworks could not be shot off near public locations including parks, hospitals, and the cemetery.
If broken, a fine would be issued for $500.
“We didn’t write any citations but we did give out warnings and copies of ordinances,” Vaughn said.
While certain guidelines were set ahead of time prior to the Independence Day celebration, tracking down fireworks became tiring.
“I think it was difficult for the officers,” Vaughn explained. “Some of the neighbors didn’t want to make that phone call, but I think officers had a difficulty of tracking them down or where the firework was at; I know it took a lot of extra time what the officers were doing so they weren’t able to attend to other things.”
Various suggestions were brought up during Monday’s City Council meeting in regards for better ways to address the problem for the future including lowering the fine from the current $500 to a smaller amount.
Mayor Pattee recently attended a meeting in Des Moines with other mayors and it was the general consensus that with the cities who allowed fireworks this year, they will be opting out next year.
Other cities are having their public safety committees take a look at the ordinance and come back before the council with their findings and recommendations.
“I do think it would be a good idea for the public safety committee to study that. Maybe we could have a meeting where the chief, myself and the city administrator can also sit down with the public safety committee and come up with some recommendations that we could bring back to council,” suggested Pattee.