Tired of your neighborhood looking and sounding like a firefight in Kabul?
There’s an app for that.
Manteca authorities are encouraging residents to download the app “Nail’Em” available from various app stores to help make those responsible for discharging illegal fireworks in the city pay the price.
The app is simple to use. It has a video component — or you can shoot your video independently using your smartphone video and download it later — as well as a question asking you to authorize the Global Position System to take a reading, an audio portion to make a verbal report, a written section as well and then a form for your contact information to fill out before sending it directly to the email of Manteca Fire Marshal Lantz Rey.
You can say you want to make the report anonymously but that reduces the chance of a successful prosecution as police or firefighters would have to be dispatched to see if they can witness an illegal discharge at the address in question. But if you fill out your name and contact, authorities will be able to process the information and with your willingness to sign that you witnessed what happened to collaborate illegal fireworks use, the responsible parties are well on their way to getting at least a $750 fine.
At least a $750 fine because every subsequent violation — an hour later or repeatedly over the course of multiple days — will add a $1,000 fine for each documented occurrence.
“There is no grace period,” Police Chief Nick Obligacion said of enforcement.
The city sent out 22,000 flyers both in English and Spanish with June municipal utility billings making it clear of the consequences that discharging illegal fireworks can bring. Similar flyers are being distributed at all booths ion Manteca selling Safe and Sane fireworks.
Rey noted illegal fireworks are any that get airborne, move along the ground explode or modified Safe and Sane fireworks.
Obligacion noted individuals who purchase illegal fireworks are well aware that they are illegal so there is no excuse.
“If someone is documented firing illegal fireworks off on one day and then once a night over the next four days that will be a $4,750 fine — $750 for the first offense and $1,000 for each offense after that,” Obligacion said.
The so-called “host ordinance” — also adopted this year in Ripon and several other cities in the 209 in response to last year’s surge in the barrage of illegal fireworks — holds whoever has control of the property from which the illegal fireworks are launched responsible. If the property is not owner occupied but is rented or leased the person who is renting or leasing the property will be fined.
And those caught by the “Nail ‘Em” app developed as a public service by T-N-T Fireworks may not be off the hook just because they skirt the weekend without getting a citation. Depending upon the volume of cases emailed to Rey, it could take a month to get citations in the mail that is enforced through the administrative law process.
Obligacion said the City Council put the social host ordinance in place in response to significant community concerns.
“We need people to help to make it work,” Obligacion said.
Those “Nail ‘Em” submissions that include the name and contact of the person sending the information “will significantly increase” the chances of those using illegal fireworks to be fined, Rey noted.
Obligacion said if a number of citations are made this year it should have a major impact of reducing illegal firework use next year. The “Nail ‘Em” app can be used year round whenever illegal fireworks are launched and will allow the social host ordinance to be enforced.
Clovis last year switched to the social host ordinance last year. Like Manteca, Clovis previously had to have law enforcement witness someone actually launch illegal fireworks or have a neighbor willing to testify in court.
Obligacion said the social host ordinance puts the burden on whoever controls the property to prevent guests or family from using illegal fireworks.
Last year Clovis simply had two police officers bicycling around town video tapping incidents where illegal fireworks were being discharged. Clovis went from no citations in 2014 to 30 last year.
The City of Manteca has also established an email address email@example.com where the information collected using the “Nail ‘Em” app can be sent. The city’s government outreach system can be sued as well as calling the police department’s non-emergency number.
Manteca Police and Manteca Fire also will have stepped up enforcement on the Fourth of July.
Even so, Obligacion noted police can’t be everywhere ands — in the past — even if they respond promptly are often unable to witness illegal fireworks being discharged. The chance of officers however issuing citations in such cases increases as they will no longer have to identify the person that actually discharges the fireworks but just verify the property where it was discharged.