Fewer fireworks went up, and complaints went down over the Fourth of July weekend in Kent.
“I’ve been doing this 23 years,” Kent Police Chief Rafael Padilla told the City Council on Tuesday during his report about fireworks. “I’ve missed three Fourth of July’s in 23 years, and I’ve not seen it this good. This was probably the best year yet.
“I don’t want to fool anybody. There are still illegal fireworks being lit off. But relative to what we’ve seen in the past, I think the community is coming around. I think people are accepting their role in keeping everybody safe.”
The City Council approved a fireworks ban in 2016 after Kent voters (62 percent) approved a ban in an advisory vote to the council in November 2015. The council received numerous complaints over the years about fireworks in neighborhoods and submitted an advisory measure to residents.
“The bottom line on the Fourth of July this year is congratulations Kent,” Padilla said. “We had a much safer event. We had zero fires from fireworks and zero serious injuries, reported to us anyway, from fireworks.”
Police added extra fireworks patrols July 1-6 to help enforce the ban. Officers made 266 contacts for fireworks, issued 18 tickets ($250 fine for using fireworks) and made two arrests. In 2018, officers issued three tickets.
“Our officers really do not like giving tickets (for fireworks),” Padilla said. “They went the warning route. But we took enforcement in the more serious cases.”
Mayor Dana Ralph joined Padilla during a fireworks patrol. The chief said they disrupted six fireworks parties when out and about. Ralph said she also noticed fewer fireworks.
“Having spent time on the East Hill and West Hill and looking out across the Valley, it was significantly better,” Ralph said about this year. “Just the amount of smoke we have seen in the past, you look out across the Valley and it’s haze. That haze did not exist this year.
“I’m not taking anything away from the fact that we had pockets of fireworks activity leading up the Fourth, the night of the Fourth and the days following. But there was significant reduction in the fireworks going on around the city.”