Stock photo

Stock photo

Fireworks calls up 56% in Kent compared to last Fourth of July

Police focused on warnings, education

Fireworks calls were up 56% this year from July 1-5 in Kent compared to 2019.

There were 383 calls to 911 or incidents spotted by officers, according to Kent Police Assistant Chief Derek Kammerzell in a July 21 report to the City Council. There were 245 calls during the same dates last year. There were 297 calls in 2018 and 430 calls in 2017.

“Due to the current climate, department guidance from the chief was a modified approach from last year,” Kammerzell said. “A tactic of strong enforcement was not in the best interest of our department and the community.”

Kammerzell said officers tried to get to as many fireworks complaints as they could with fewer resources. Police used a two-officer emphasis car from July 1-5 during peak hours of 8 to 11 p.m.

“The focus was based on education and gaining compliance in lieu of citations and confiscation unless absolutely necessary,” he said.

There were 209 fireworks calls on July 4, up 30% from the 161 calls in 2019.

Officers handled 204 incidents in person, including 115 on the Fourth of July. Officers issued no citations or infractions. They issued 70 verbal warnings and in one case confiscated about one-half pound of fireworks. No fireworks injuries were reported. Four fireworks-related fires were reported, two at residential homes.

The council passed a fireworks ban in 2016 in part because 62 percent of voters approved a ban in a November 2015 advisory vote to the council. It is illegal to discharge fireworks at any time, and subject to a $250 ticket and the seizure of your fireworks. The discharge of fireworks in a reckless manner or possession of more than 20 pounds is a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a $5,000 fine.

A crime has to be seen by an officer, which makes it difficult to issue citations for fireworks, Chief Rafael Padilla said. He added it can be a challenge to determine which property the fireworks came from. Then officers have to identify the offender. Officers noted it was hard to make contact with people lighting off fireworks in backyards.

With more people at home because of COVID-19 and the cancellation of the city’s annual Splash event and fireworks display at Lake Meridian Park, police expected the number of fireworks cases might go up.

But Padilla said it wasn’t a year to crack down on violators.

“With everything going on in our country, tension with law enforcement, we didn’t want to put officers in a position to be a lighting rod for confrontation and other issues so we went with warnings and education,” Padilla said.

State report

The Washington State Fire Marshal’s Office reported in a July 22 media release that it had received 265 reports of fireworks-related incidents from hospitals, clinics and fire agencies so far this year. Of the 265 reports received, there were 92 fires and 173 injuries, one of which was a fatality in Snohomish County.

Fires resulted in property loss of $67,790. There were 51 vegetation fires and nine residential fires. Legal fireworks caused 45% of the fires.

Injuries included burns, facial injuries, hand injuries, hearing or vision loss. Of those, 35% were due to being hit by fireworks; 32% were due to holding fireworks after lighting them; 62% were attributable to legal fireworks; 21% were children under the age of 18. Most of the injuries occurred between 10 p.m. and midnight on the Fourth of July.

The one death was accidental resulting from the premature explosion of a mortar-style firework.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@kentreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kentreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

Kent Police Blotter: July 30-Aug. 9

Shots fired incidents dominate list

Protesters of fatal police shootings rally at Auburn Justice Center

Demands include for city of Auburn to cut its police budget by half

Free food boxes to be distributed Aug. 14-15 in Kent

Event at ShoWare Center parking lot

Two lanes of Pacific Highway South in Kent to close nights of Aug. 17-21 and Aug. 24-28

Crews to do utility work for Sound Transit light rail extension

Group plans petition drive to recall Kent School Board members

Claims board has not ‘performed their duties in accordance with the laws of the state’

Federal Way postpones first day of school to Sept. 8

District is preparing for a possible $22.6M revenue loss due to declining enrollments, reduction in funding.

Fill the Bus school supply drive in Kent set for Aug. 20

Drop off donations at Kent Station and other locations

Kent Police Chief Rafael Padilla invites the crowd to take a knee with him on the lawn of the Maleng Regional Justice Center on June 11 prior to a protest march along downtown streets after the death of George Floyd, who was killed by a Minneapolis police officer. STEVE HUNTER, Kent Reporter
Kent Police plan equity and social justice reform

Chief Padilla meeting with City Council, mayor, community to come up with resolution

Most Read