After accompanying Warren police on July 4 to enforce the state fireworks law, Warren Mayor Jim Fouts promises to intensify enforcement next July 4.
“We’re going to double our police patrols with emphasis on fireworks discharged by minors without parental supervision, public intoxication while discharging fireworks and fireworks discharged on city streets,” said Fouts, who is the only elected official to oppose the state’s fireworks law passed two years ago.
During his July 4 ride-along in a patrol car, Fouts observed fireworks being discharged on city streets and unsupervised minors discharging fireworks.
Fouts also observed that too many residents were under the influence of alcohol especially late at night. Fouts concluded, “fireworks and fire water do not mix.”
Fouts has supported changing the state law punishment from a civil infraction to a misdemeanor.
“A citation is a slap on the wrist for violating a law that endangers the public,” said Fouts. “A misdemeanor penalty imposes a $500 fine or 90 days in jail.”
Fouts said police reported 208 calls about fireworks on July 4, compared to 87 in 2013. Residents are more aware of the fireworks law and reporting more violations, according to Fouts, who said 46 citations were issued compared to 10 last year.
“The misguided state legislature passed a law that resulted in fireworks being louder, longer and more lethal,” said Fouts.
The mayor said enforcement will be intensified next year with more police patrols, and fireworks dealers will be monitored more closely, especially when it comes to the sale of fireworks to minors.
“We’re making progress because the word is spreading about our enforcement measures,” said Fouts, who will correspond with mayors from neighboring cities next year to get their cooperation. “It is a regional problem.”