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Illegal fireworks: Having neighbors reporting, testifying against neighbors not wise move
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Editor,, Manteca Bulletin
I normally am in agreement with your published opinions but I am in near total disagreement with your “Around Town” piece published on July 12th (“Don’t Blame The Police, We Need To Step Up”). Let me explain.
To begin with, I don’t believe the City of Manteca is serious about stopping the use of illegal fireworks. I personally feel that their actions in having one or two additional officers on patrol is simply “what is the minimum we can do to show the public we are doing something”. If the City is serious then they should “mobilize” the Police and Fire Department, bring in the Sheriff’s Department and the SHARP folks and have all of them go out and write citations. There’s always a question on funding for such things and I would tackle that problem by first going to the suppliers of “safe and sane” fireworks in the first year and tax them to partially pay for enforcement. Let’s be honest, the “Nail Em “application the distributors of “safe and sane” provide is an attempt to stay in business. Next, having worked on such federally paid for programs like FAST (Fatal Accident Strike Team) and CRASH I feel confident that if someone took the time to apply for a Federal or State grant they could find some additional funding (it wouldn’t surprise me if Homeland Security/ATF had a fund for the gathering and disposal of explosives). I would think between those two sources of money Manteca could begin effective enforcement. After the first year I would take the fines gathered in the preceding year to pay for the following year’s enforcement bill.
If the solution to illegal fireworks is to report and testify against your neighbor then the results are going to be like this year’s numbers, practically nil. The point you raised about testifying against neighbors is exactly why many police officers don’t live in the communities they patrol. It’s one thing to issue a ticket or arrest someone when you may never see them again, it’s quite something else to testify against a neighbor who lives fifty feet away who you will see daily. I commend you for your actions 24 years ago and I would like to think most people would step in when something like what you experienced occurred. My personal experience is that having angry neighbors is an extremely heavy price to pay for a task that should be performed by paid professionals.

Jon Lautenschlager