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Patrols, sweep lead to dramatic drop-off of illegal fireworks
Illegal fireworks use
Some of the 14,000 pounds of illegal fireworks Manteca Police working with other agencies took off the streets in the days leading up to the Fourth of July.

A multi-jurisdictional effort to clean the South County of parole violators and illegal fireworks may have proven to be successful in Lathrop. 

While the sweep — which included the Manteca, Tracy, and Ripon police departments as well as State Parole, the State Fugitive Task Force, and the AB109 Task Force — headed by acting Lathrop Police Chief Ryan Biederman didn’t completely eradicate the illegal fireworks that continue to be a problem every year, the effort coupled with maximum enforcement the night of Fourth of July yielded positive results for residents who noted that their usage dropped off dramatically after 10:30 p.m. 

According to Biedermann, roving teams comprised of a Lathrop Police Officer and a Lathrop Manteca Fire Prevention Officer issued only one citation on the night of the holiday — a sign, he said, that the sweep did its job of taking the bulk of the fireworks that would have been used in Lathrop off the street in advance of the opportunity to use them. 

In addition to the roving patrols and the sweep across multiple jurisdictions, Lathrop Manteca Fire Chief Gene Neely noted that his crews which were driving around the community in engines issued only four citations using the “Nail ‘Em” application that allows people to take video of the use of illegal fireworks and tag the location where the infraction is taking place. 

Because of the City of Lathrop’s decision to enact a “no host” ordinance several years ago, the simple observation of the use of illegal fireworks from an identifiable property allows authorities the discretion to issue citations to the home or property owner. The change to the way that Lathrop handled fireworks cases was in response to a lack of prosecutions from the District Attorney’s office of fireworks offenders at the time and was made in conjunction with a change that allowed the Lathrop City Attorney to handle the prosecution.  

While there were no structure fires reported in Lathrop due to the use of fireworks on the Fourth of July, at least two homes in Manteca caught fire after safe-and-sane fireworks were improperly disposed of near Woodward Park — catching one home on fire before it spread to the neighboring home and ignited several propane tanks which fueled the fire. 

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.