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Lathrop Police plan crackdown on New Year’s Eve fireworks

The City of Lathrop spent months trying to educate the public about stricter enforcement of illegal fireworks leading up to the Fourth of July.

And it appears that they’re doing the same thing as the winter holiday season rolls around by attempting to prevent New Year’s Eve celebrations from turning into a colder version of Independence Day.

In the city’s November newsletter posted to its website, the city used the top story space to remind people that illegal fireworks – those that leave the ground and those that explode, like mortars, bottle rockets, and M80s – are always illegal, and that the “safe and sane” fireworks that can be purchased at city-approved fireworks stands are only legal during the week leading up to the Fourth of July and the holiday itself.

Those that are caught violating the city’s ordinance – which will now be prosecuted by the City Attorney as a way to ensure that enforcement remains a priority – will face a misdemeanor citation and fines of up to $250 for the first infraction. Subsequent infractions will lead to even stiffer penalties, and Lathrop’s recently-implemented “host” ordinance that allows police officers and firefighters to cite property owners where illegal fireworks are being used even if they can’t prove who lit them only bolsters the ability for the city to prosecute those that violate the law.

In the newsletter the city noted that Lathrop Police Services will step up active patrols and enforcement during the week leading up to New Year’s Eve. Lathrop Manteca Fire Chief Gene Neely said that he would have to look at possibly increasing staffing as well to curb what has been an extensive issue in the community that has remained a nuisance despite the stiffer penalties for breaking the law.

On Fourth of July both Lathrop Police Services and the Lathrop Manteca Fire District worked in tandem to try and stamp out violators across the city, bringing on additional staff specifically for that purpose. The fire district also began employing the use of a drone to scout out location where people may have been lighting off illegal fireworks – which have been to blame for a number of grass fires as well as structure and vehicle fires in the community in recent years.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.