City of Missoula Police Detective Travis Welsh Announces No Enforcement Policy on Fireworks Prohibition

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.

  1. lizard19

    it started this year with the (bail-out) Osprey’s first home game, around 11pm, and it was incredibly loud. I bet there were LOTS of complaints about it.

    I am wondering though, why just the northside and “felony flats?” is it because our local law enforcement might not be physically fit enough for the South Hills, or is it because there’s a correlation between low income parts of town and the use of fireworks?

    when local officials say it’s an education issue, aren’t they really saying the problem isn’t fireworks, but the stupid people using them?

    it is pretty amazing how candid Walsh was in publicly acknowledging their acceptance of firework anarchy.

    yeah, cell phones and homeless people pooping in the bushes are the real public safety concerns, right?

    • Last year, the Osprey didn’t even have a permit…or maybe it was the year before.

      I didn’t bother to check this year – because they didn’t do a darn thing about the Osprey firing off and it couldn’t have been more public! There were many complaints and it even got news coverage.

      As for felony flats and the northside? Mainly because I know that there were craploads of fireworks going off in both neighborhoods…but I also hear the slants were putting on quite a show also.

      The reporter states that the police say that their priorities are “keeping people safe and reducing fire danger.” So what in the world are pyrotechnics in the hands of amateurs? In residential neighborhoods?

      Regardless, City of Missoula Police have spoken…all I’m doing now is trying to figure out the next anarchy that’ll have Muir & Co. on tv saying they’re not going to enforce it because too many people are doing it.

      All sorts of things come to mind.

  2. Pronghorn

    Hey, come on out to the county for a good time. (On 2nd thought, DON’T.) No laws to flout out here, it’s a free-for-all. And did you know that the commissioners can’t regulate fireworks in the county (except when fire danger is high enough)?

    In my neighborhood, the fireworks started June 23rd at midnight. The fireworks industry has money and lobbyists. Citizens have bupkis.

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