Archive for July 5th, 2012

by jhwygirl

Much was a-twitter the last few days on the lack of enforcement of the prohibition on fireworks within city limits. I, myself, gave up calling in fireworks violations last year. I think it was 2010 when the fairly new duplex down the street caught fire late in the evening. The upstairs resident was awakened by his 6 month old golden retriever (thankfully) and they escaped, and the home was saved.

I had called police twice that evening. Later, the fire marshal said they didn’t have enough evidence for any sort of investigation.

No one died, I guess.

It seems each year the Missoulian (I’m protesting putting in links tonight folks) does a perennial story on the complaints on fireworks, how many calls the police got and a nice little pr piece where a city official – elected or paid – stands there and talks about how ‘education is better’ and ‘warnings are usually effective’ statements.

Well, this year Detective Sargent Travis Welsh just told it like it really is – city police aren’t going to enforce the fireworks prohibition ordinance. Here’s Det. Sgt. Welsh on NBC news station KECI:

For those that can’t hit the video, here’s what Det. Sgt. Welsh says:

“Considering the volume of calls and the volume of people who are actually violating the ordinance…it would be a fruitless effort to try to throw everybody in jail for a minor offense.”

Before people going chewing on me for “hysterics”, consider the hysterics put forth by Det. Sgt. Welsh: He says it would be a “fruitless effort to try and throw everybody in jail for a minor offense” when such offense is not a criminal offense.

Per city municipal code, “The penalty for violating any provisions of this chapter shall solely be a fine of up to five hundred and no/100 dollars ($500.00). There shall be no penalty of imprisonment for a violation of any provision of this chapter. (Ord. 2983, 1996)”

What we really have here is a message to all Missoulians that you can do fireworks whenever you want – because we’re not going to enforce them.

Dare I suggest that if the city of police would put two officers on bikes next year – one on the northside, and one in misdemeanor meadows and felony flats – they could hand out $500 tickets, one per half hour and put an end to the onslaught of fireworks real quick.

That is, of course, if anyone wanted that ordinance enforced. Doesn’t seem, though, that anyone cares – keep in mind Det. Sgt. Welsh looked pretty comfortable standing there telling KECI that he wasn’t going to enforce the ordinance because of the sheer number of calls.

Geez – with that logic, it has me wondering what we should try and get away with next…just make sure everyone calls it in to the cops.

It’s not just pets that suffer…and it isn’t just the danger it presents to roofs and backyard party-goers – keep in mind here in Missoula (at least) how many veterans we have. PTSD, folks. I’ve told the story of my encounter with someone who has it…I can’t imagine how hearing $250 worth of rockets go off at midnight would feel for him.

We’ll regulate texting and driving because of the danger it presents, but fireworks? What goes up must come down.

Not like Montana’s burning, either.

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