The “bombs” — as in illegal M-80 fireworks — are already bursting in the air over Manteca.
If you want to help authorities catch the culprits, there’s an app for that.
By downloading the “Nail ‘em” app for Android or Apple phones and using it — the app records the GPS location of illegal fireworks and even allows you to take a photo and sends it to the Manteca fire marshal — you can significantly increase the chances of the perpetrators being shell shocked with a $1,000 fine.
Targeted teams of police and fire patrols won’t hit the streets until the Fourth of July weekend nears.
But if you are able to use the “Nail ‘em” app to document illegal fireworks happening as the holiday approaches, the city will be able to add those locations to areas they will keep an eye on when fireworks patrols are started.
That’s because the odds are someone launching the fireworks in advance of the weekend will continue to do illegal launches then as well as on the Fourth of July.
The “intelligence” citizens provide will increase the odds culprits will be cited and slapped with $1,000 fines that will dampen their appetite to launch illegal fireworks in future years.
“We don’t have enough manpower to be everywhere that weekend,” Interim Fire Chief Dave Marques said.
That is why data residents provide about illegal fireworks activity this year and information on more than 100 locations last year that escaped being among the nearly two dozen slapped with $1,000 fines will be used to target hot spots in Manteca.
Host law holds renter
responsible for fine
Under a city law put in place five years ago and upheld by the courts, all officers simply need to make is a GPS stamped video recording and move on allowing them to follow up with mailed citations. They do not have to make contact with either a homeowner or the person renting the property where illegal fireworks are launched.
The city’s host ordinance requires only that the property where fireworks are launched from be identified and not the person actually setting off the fireworks. Not only is that significantly easier to verify, but because it is through the administrative process and not the court system the citations are resolved fairly quickly with the city prevailing in the vast majority of cases.
Almost every citation that has been issued in previous years has resulted in the person in control of the property where they were launched from, whether it was a homeowner or a renter, being successfully slapped with a $750 fine plus being assessed with all the costs the city incurred citing and prosecuting the case bringing the total tab to $1,000 per offense.
Nearly 100 out $1,000
each over last 4 years
Almost 100 homeowners or renters over the last four years have ended up being slapped with the fines.
Those reporting the illegal fireworks often get frustrated that they call and the illegal fireworks keep going off.
There are two things to keep in mind. After years of playing cat and mouse, law enforcement realized they could rarely respond in time or let alone catch the actual person shooting them off in the act. That is why city leaders switched to the host ordinance that has seen a six-fold increase in people being cited.
The hope is enough citations are issued that people using illegally fireworks will get the message.
Based on past citations costing $1,000 each, fire officials can point to areas in Manteca that once were hot spots for illegal fireworks no longer have them as a problem. That means the more help the city has at pinpointing locations this year the better chance your neighborhood could be quieter next year.
Illegal fireworks are anything which explodes (such as firecrackers, cherry bombs, M-80s, M100s, etc.) or anything which leaves the ground (bottle rockets, roman candles, mortars, etc.). These types of fireworks are not "Safe and Sane" compliant and are illegal to possess and/or use. Modifying a "Safe and Sane" firework to explode or leave the ground would also make it illegal.
Due to the extremely high volume of fireworks calls the police department receives each year, they ask for your assistance in using the app whenever possible instead of calling the police department. In the event you don't have the app or prefer to call, you may do so by calling the Manteca Police Department directly at 209-456-8100 (press 1).
You are asked not to call 911 for fireworks unless there is an immediate threat to life or property such as a fire, injury, or other hazard.
The city ordinance regarding when Safe and Sane fireworks — those that are legal — can be used have to comply with state law if they are allowed in a city. That means legal fireworks can be used technically 24 hours over the seven days fireworks sales take place in Manteca from noon on Monday, June 28, to midnight on July 4.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org