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Dont blame the police, we need to step up
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The email was pointed — and unsigned.
It essentially said the Manteca Police, Manteca Fire, and everyone else working for the city were incompetent and weren’t doing a thing about illegal fireworks.
It was sent to my in box on the Fourth of July.
Not making excuses but the police don’t have enough personnel to be at every site of illegal fireworks being used and still be able to respond to other concerns such as domestic violence, accidents, idiots discharging guns, robberies, and such. And if they did, your monthly property tax bill would be more than your basic mortgage payment and PG&E bill combined.
If people really want to get things under control, they can do so with the “Nail ‘Em” app. That doesn’t mean just doing it to alert police. People have to be willing to use the app’s components — video, time stamp, and global positioning — and do one thing that they can’t do anonymously.
That one thing is sign an affidavit meaning they are willing to testify that they collected the data.
It’s the way the law works.
Twenty-four years ago I was returning home from my future wife’s home on North Ripon Road on a Sunday evening. I had come to a stop in traffic on East Yosemite at the Highway 99 off ramps where Sizzler’s was once located and Black Bear Diner is located. Two lanes over a compact car slammed into the back of a pickup truck that had stopped at the red light.
The driver — a woman — jumped out of the car and started running toward the Carrow’s restaurant that has since been torn down and replaced with the El Pollo Loco. She had left the car engine running, door open and music blaring a thumper pitch.
I was one of  six motorists that pulled over and went to the car. As I go there a man noticed a crying baby in a car seat in the back seat. While he was getting the young boy out, I reached over and turned off the radio and the ignition.
A Manteca Police officer talked to the six of us, taking our statements.
Three or so months later I was summoned to what was then Manteca Municipal Court.
It was the usual 9 a.m. cattle call for all cases.
The Manteca Police officer was there as well as other law enforcement officers involved with other cases. Every 30 minutes or so an attorney would pop out of the courtroom and look around the lobby. This went on until about 11:30 a.m. The bailiff came out and informed the officer and me that we were not needed as the case had been settled.
I was a bit confused — and irked. I asked the officer why they had us sit there for that long if they weren’t going to need us.
His answer stunned me. In essence, the lawyer’s strategy was hoping I would leave. When I told the officer that he would have been there, he said it didn’t matter. While the judge wanted him there to verify what he had put in his report, they needed an eyewitness to go for the charges that involved abandoning g her child and hit and run.
None of the other five witnesses bothered to show up.
The officer said if hadn’t, nothing would have happened to the driver in terms of punishment.
If the 248 people had all documented illegal fireworks as required and were willing to take the additional step, there would have been 272 and not 24 — with the possibility of 5 more people — paying for their crime.
That would have had a major impact because 272 people would have been hit with $750 fines — or multiple fines — plus administrative cost recovery charges.
The fines alone would be $204,000.
Word would get around quick.
It would make a lot of people think twice using illegal fireworks the next year because of the cost.’
Some it might not.
But if you want justice — and safer streets and quieter nights — you have to be willing to put yourself out there.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email