A spokesman with the Des Moines police department says calls about fireworks nearly doubled this year — despite a ban on their use in the capital city. Calls went from 270 to 521 and there were no arrests or citations issued.
The Davenport Police Department responded to 480 fireworks calls — which was a nearly 27 percent increase from the same period last year. Davenport police reported 11 arrests or citations from fireworks calls.
Cedar Rapids banned the use of fireworks after there were 948 fireworks complaints last year. Cedar Rapids public safety spokesman Greg Buelow says the complaints they had this year did drop closer to the number recorded in 2016 before fireworks became legal.
“Our most problematic days were 63 complaints on July 1st, 80 on July second, 117 on July third, 216 on July Fourth,” Beulow says. He says once all the numbers are tallied it will be around 600 or so complaints. He says there were some cases where there were several calls about one person.
“That’s one of the issues that you are going to have — it doesn’t mean that a majority of the people didn’t follow the ban — it just means that those who didn’t obviously were problematic, disrespectful of their neighbors and thwarted the law,” according to Beulow. Police issued eight citations this year for illegal fireworks use in Cedar Rapids, and he says it can be tough because an officer often has to see the act taking place. Buelow says another issue is the law doesn’t allow for the ban on the sale of fireworks in cities that have banned the use of them.
“The analogy that we’ve used several times with people is like taking your kid to the ice cream store, putting an ice cream cone in their hand and telling them not to lick it,” Beulow says. “I mean, very difficult when they are being sold right in your community and it’s not illegal to posess.” Cedar Rapids does have a nuisance ordiance where they can charge someone for the cost of sending police to their home multiple times for fireworks complaints.
Beulow says the department will be looking at some other tools they can use next year. “Hopefully the issue will be involving more of a community awareness campaign. Again, we can’t reiterate enough that it’s problematic to have fireworks in a community. We hear this all the time ‘well the state gave us this right.’ Well, the state was also wise enough to say local jurisdicitons should have some control,” he says. Beulow says his biggest disappointment is people who don’t have enough respect for their neighbors and will shoot off fireworks that send debris onto other homes and yards. And shooting them off without thinking about how the noise might impact neighbors.
“That’s the problems that we’re having — and it’s caused a number of disturbances in our community — some confrontations even that officers have responded to,” Beulow says. He says they know of at least six fires that started this year as a result of fireworks — including one where a car was destroyed in a garage.
Sioux City Police say they responded to 422 fireworks related calls from June 30th through Sunday, July 8th. During that same period, 3 citations and several verbal warnings were issued. Police say often when officers responded to a fireworks complaint, they were unable to locate any fireworks in the reported area. Occasionally officers responded and located the fireworks, but were unable to identify or determine the person responsible for lighting the fireworks in violation of the city ordinance.