Authorities responded to more than 200 calls reporting illegal fireworks in Hollister over the holiday weekend, and issued 44 citations as the city and its police department flooded the city with officers.
From July 1-5, personnel from Hollister Police Department, Hollister Animal Control and Hollister Code Enforcement worked overtime shifts in unmarked police cars “in a concentrated effort to locate illegal fireworks and issue citations to those residents and visitors who were lighting them,” says a press release from Hollister Police Department. For safety reasons, each car contained two officers, and one police sergeant oversaw all the personnel involved in the fireworks enforcement operation.
During the five-day holiday enforcement period, Santa Cruz Regional 911 generated 201 calls for hazardous fireworks within the Hollister city limits, police said. These included nine calls on July 1; 25 on July 2; 35 on July 3; and 132 calls on July 4.
“Many of those calls were general calls in which the caller could only report that hazardous fireworks were heard or seen in the area,” says the press release. “Some of those calls with just a general report of fireworks in the area were not dispatched to the officers, because the officers were already in the area trying to catch the perpetrators.”
In one incident, police “committed significant resources” to help evacuate the scene of a vegetation fire that threatened homes, authorities said. In others, HPD had to pull animal control officers from the fireworks operation to help with a “multitude” of animal complaints.
Due to the “sheer volume” of fireworks activity, the city’s response to calls was delayed in some instances, police added. Some calls were generated by officers, who observed subjects lighting aerial or mortar style fireworks while they were on patrol.
In total, officers issued 44 citations to offenders during the holiday period, police said. In 2021, the city received a total of 160 calls for fireworks service and issued 31 citations.
Each violation of the city’s municipal code regulating fireworks can result in a $1,000 fine.
“The department wants to thank all of our residents who celebrated in a safe and sane manner,” police said in the press release. “We heard from so many residents with legitimate complaints about the aerial bombardment, the excessive noise and dangerous explosions.”
For the 2023 Fourth of July holiday period, the police department will look into increasing fines again for illegal fireworks, when possible, the press release says. They will also consider adding even more police officers and city enforcement staff to assist in the operations.