DOWNEY – City Council furthered their discussion and seemingly took steps forward in their attempt to curb illegal firework use at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, however were still not able to come to a definitive solution and course of action as of yet.
During Tuesday’s meeting, council members were presented with several options to help combat the seemingly growing pandemic. These solutions included:
■ Altering current enforcement operations during Fourth of July, including use of plainclothes patrols, and authorization of additional staff to administer citations and/or authorization of additional overtime for enforcement;
■ Use of drones to assist with surveillance and enforcement,
■ Consideration of “social host,” where the owner and/or resident of a property found to be using illegal fireworks is held responsible;
■ Adoption of an ordinance to ban the currently allowed “safe and sane” firework use, either permanently or for a temporary one to three year moratorium for study
■ Or to place a banning measure on the ballot.
No council member seemed quite ready to move towards a ban, however several members were hesitant with a few of the options presented towards them.
Notably, Mayor Alex Saab took issue with the option of plainclothes officers patrolling the streets and the use of drones. Saab settled on his plainclothes officer concerns when Downey Police Captain Dean Milligan, who was sitting in for vacationing Police Chief Carl Charles, assured the mayor that the “plainclothes” term was somewhat of a misnomer, and that officers patrolling in this way would still be uniformed, albeit less formally.
However, Saab remained adamant on his full disapproval of drone use.
Another concern presented was the cost of any additional officers sent out to patrol. However, council seemed convinced that the cost would be offset, after a brief discussion of the potential increased number of fines received from an increased patrol force dedicated to illegal fireworks, plus another discussion of a potential fee increase charged to nonprofits seeking a fireworks stand.
Councilman Roger Brossmer pushed for more patrol personnel.
“…I don’t think we would argue with the fact that it’s not been successful,” said Brossmer. “So if we’re going to go down this path, obviously we would need to increase the amount of man power we’re putting out there…if we were to increase our ability to write the tickets, you quickly pay for that overtime…”
This year, Downey Police issued 12 citations for fireworks violations during the Independence Day holiday, nine of which were for illegal firework use. This is a decrease from previous years, however, there is no real discernible reason as to why the fall happened.
By meeting's end, despite what seemed to be some progress, there were just enough questions remaining to keep council from pulling the trigger.
Now, city staff has been directed to do more research on fines and stand fees, and will return to the city council with their findings at a later date.