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Lathrop targets illegal fireworks
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Those who use illegal fireworks in Lathrop will no longer have the advantage when it comes to ducking citations from police and fire personnel that were previously hamstrung. 

Last month the Lathrop City Council voted to formally adopt an ordinance that will give police officers and firefighters the ability cite property owners when illegal fireworks are being used on the premises. 

And once those citations are written, it’ll now be the Lathrop City Attorney – not the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s office – who prosecutes the cases in court to maximize the enforcement of the new rules. 

Prior to the ordinance overhaul, the majority of tickets that were written in Lathrop – either by police officers or fire personnel – were of people that the officers had specifically observed using them, which made catching those responsible difficult and enforcement even more so. 

Even those that were cited were often let off when the district attorney’s office declined to press charges because of the amount of manpower involved and the sheer number of cases that work their way through the office. 

By eliminating that loophole, enforcement that is more aggressive, in the eyes of law enforcement and fire services who have to deal with the aftermath of illegal fireworks, should serve as a deterrent – cutting down on the number of safety-related concerns that the aerial fireworks, which are often imported from out-of-state, present to emergency responders. 

Last year, in the fourth year of California’s worst drought on record, at least one structure fire and a number of grass fires were caused by errant aerial fireworks that landed on dry roof shingles or fields. The sheer number of illegal aerial fireworks was so bad that the Lathrop Manteca Fire District created plans to deploy an aerial drone to catch people who were violating the city’s ban against them – requiring an elevated positon to see those firing them from behind fences and in backyards. 

Now that the ordinance is relaxed, observers only need to see them coming from a specific property before they’ll be able to take action – something that emergency personnel view as huge step in the battle that has gotten progressively harder fight as cheap, dangerous fireworks become lucrative on a black market that is out of control on the internet. 

Lathrop will once again sell safe-and-sane fireworks to benefit local non-profits, but those that leave the ground and those that explode will remain illegal. 


To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.