Winters PD issues six illegal fireworks citations

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Illegal fireworks have been part of annual celebrations of Independence Day in Winters, but a growing number of complaints about the annoyance and potential fire damage they cause seems to have moved the city’s tolerance level.

In May, the Winters City Council approved a resolution adding sections to the city’s municipal code prohibiting illegal fireworks and establishing a civil fine for violations. The City declared in the resolution that illegal fireworks pose significant risks to public health and safety.

With the Fourth of July weekend now behind us, Winters Police Chief John P. Miller told the Express his department issued six citations under the expanded ordinance. Each violation carries a mandatory fine of $1,000 that can be paid or appealed through an administrative hearing process.

Fortunately, this year there were no reports of fire damage or personal injury related to illegal fireworks, Miller said.

Important to note about the City of Winters’s expanded fireworks ordinance is that it permits holding the host or property owner “strictly liable” for violations. This is a legal term that under the ordinance permits citing property owners, residents, and social hosts for the discharge of illegal fireworks, whether they discharged them or not.

The City’s official July 3 fireworks show at the Winters High School football field was “a great event” that attracted an estimated 1,000 attendees, Miller said, with an estimated 4,000–5,000 people coming to Winters to celebrate the holiday.

The Fourth of July celebration is an “all hands-on deck” event with Winters PD officers, reserve officers, community service officers and cadets all assisting. In addition, bicycle officers were deployed; three from Winters PD, two from Woodland PD and one from Davis PD.

As one of six bicycle patrol officers working on July 3, Miller shared bodycam footage of a 10:40 p.m. encounter at a Baker Street residence where illegal fireworks were being discharged.

Arriving on scene officers encountered an adult male who identified the home as his father’s. The father came to the sidewalk and was advised of the ordinance violation and told he could be held liable, to which the father responded with some skepticism. Miller confirmed this encounter was one of the six citations issued.

As the officers departed to the next illegal fireworks event, and there were many, the group gathered at the Baker Street residence could be heard on the video hurling derogatory names at them.

The community was warned by the city and through various media channels of the expanded ordinance, yet according to Miller the number of illegal fireworks discharged this year did not appear to have waned from previous years.

Miller suggested that neighbors approach neighbors with mutual respect and engage in a cordial conversation to discourage discharging illegal fireworks.

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