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Stepped up effort planned against illegal fireworks
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A public education blitz coupled with stepped up enforcement is being proposed to combat illegal fireworks in Manteca.
Manteca fire and police departments issued 20 citations carrying $750 fines in the week leading up to — as well as on — the Fourth of July earlier this year. The stepped up enforcement employing for the first time third-party and social host citations barely made a dent in illegal fireworks. There were about 200 complaints handled by police dispatch concerning illegal fireworks and another 150 reports filed online using the “Nail ‘Em” app.
That prompted the council in August for staff to find a way to step up efforts to combat illegal fireworks.
The directive resulted in a detailed campaign that staff proposes launching in February. The plan is being presented to the City Council for consideration Tuesday when they meet at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.  The program as proposed will cost $16,500 to implement.
The effort will start in February when the second Community Resource Officer is hired. Police staff will begin to work with Neighborhood Watch Programs.  One of the primary issues discussed will be fireworks enforcement. 
 The same month the Fire Department staff will begin preparation for a public outreach campaign. 
uDevelop public service videos that differentiate between legal and illegal fireworks.
uDevelop a slogan and order yard signs for citizens who want to support the Fire Department efforts. 
uDevelop a social media campaign.
uDevelop displays and informational flyers for the Street Faire.   
uOrder refrigerator magnets for Manteca Unified School District outreach. 
It also involves a Fireworks Awareness/Education booth at Manteca Street Faire on March 31 and April 1 staffed by the Fire Department and Police Department. They will provide information on illegal fireworks as well as educate the public on the existing ordinance and fines that are possible if caught with illegal fireworks.
In conjunction with the Neighborhood Watch Program, the two departments will conduct community meetings at neighborhood parks from May 1 to June 30. The effort will include:
uEducation on what is, and what is not legal. 
uPassing out third party affidavit information to citizens. 
uEnsuring citizens they can remain anonymous unless the fine is appealed. 
uProviding information on the fireworks reporting mobile app. 
uPassing out yard signs. 
 The first fireworks flyer will go out in the municipal utility bills (English and Spanish) in May.
 Meanwhile an informational flyer will be passed out to Manteca Unified students including refrigerator magnets for second graders.  Approval by the school district will be needed.
The second fireworks bilingual flyer will go out in municipal utility bills in June. 
There will be fireworks safety classes on June 13 and 20 for firework booth volunteers focusing on illegal fireworks enforcement. 
 A public outreach campaign involving social media, TV and radio will start June 15.
 Fireworks patrols will be conducted June 29 through July 4 by police and fire. During this time a public safety message will play on 640 AM, Caltrans freeway signs will be used for public information and Nixel messages will be sent out. 
Based on the recommendations of the task force, staff estimates the cost of implementing the outreach campaign as follows: street faire, $2,000 (costs associated with the production of public information flyers, handouts and registration); public outreach campaign and Manteca Unified School District project, $4,500 (Costs associated with hosting community meetings, producing yard signs, utility bill inserts, and refrigerator magnets); and staffing, $10,000 (Overtime costs for one additional fire engine on July 4, fireworks patrols for five nights, and for up to 10 community meetings as well as staffing a booth at the Street Faire.                     
 Funds for implementing a public outreach program were not included in the current municipal budget. If the council approves the outreach campaign as recommended, staff will bring back a resolution to appropriate funds. 

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email