Community Board: Spike fireworks fines, do enforcement blitz

This is the street where the incident occurred, with the home in the background where the suspect was arrested.

Political leadership and law enforcement’s general passivity toward illegal fireworks is a serious public-safety problem, but neighbors must play a more active role in reporting the dangerous crimes as well.
It’s easy after the July 4 mess on Brigantino Drive to point the finger at the city for allowing safe-and-sane fireworks—and the potential for the cheaper, non-aerial, legal versions to fill out a neighborhood party’s supply of holiday excitement—but those sales are important revenue sources for local nonprofit groups and well-behaving residents should not be punished for blatant senselessness from unruly adults.
For the violators: Seriously, it’s time to grow up and move on past this bizarre insistence on acting out criminal behavior once a year—which actually lasts about a month in San Benito County—putting neighbors, children and others’ property in danger.
Fortunately, there are three steps that can help to significantly alleviate the illegal fireworks problem without banning all the fun.
With serious injuries to five children on July 4 when a launcher on Brigantino Drive tipped over and fireworks shot into a crowd, the city must respond aggressively with regard to penalties and enforcement. Officials should immediately hike the fine for illegal fireworks from $1,000 to $5,000 for each offense, as suggested by the mayor, and plan to invest a good chunk of money in at least the next couple of years on an enforcement blitz.
Just as the city invests in rally security to ensure public safety, officials must do the same with fireworks, an equally if not more serious security issue than the relatively low-key biker event.
 Put together a beefed-up team of undercover enforcement officers, hand out an eye-popping slew of tickets and publicize the enforcement and results on social media to reinforce the message.
Authorities will need a lot of help from local residents, too. Neighbors have to play a larger role in reporting illegal fireworks use—while a city-organized, anonymous tip line dedicated to fireworks issues could make the process less intimidating, especially in light of apparent delays at times with 911 responses when many calls come in at one time.
Above all, neighbors have to stop turning their heads. These are not your grandfather’s M-80s. They will burn down homes, blow off limbs and kill people, and it’s reckless to let these criminal activities continue without consequences.
Parents in particular must open their eyes on this serious threat to their children and keep them away from any illegal fireworks. Going forward, if someone on the block starts shooting off illegal fireworks, it would be nice to think parents could have access to an anonymous process so they can report the crimes and see prompt results from authorities.

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