Could Other Waterloo Officials Help Hand-out Fireworks Citations?
A few weeks ago, Waterloo city council members voted 6-1 against a fireworks ban. But if one city councilman's idea comes to fruition, fireworks fanatics who break the rules, could have a better chance of getting busted.
There was only ONE citation issued last year in Waterloo
In mid-April, city council member, David Boesen voted "no" against a ban. However, as previously reported by the WCF Courier, Boesen suggested that local officials work with the Waterloo Police Department on how go about enforcement. Also mentioning that "current Waterloo regulations...lack merit without support from police."
In year's past, it didn't seem that there was "lack of support" from the police, the problem seemed to be lack of manpower and possibly prioritizing calls for assistance.
In 2020, Waterloo Police received 686 calls complaining about fireworks, and only ONE citation was issued. Part of that problem might be "catching them in the act". One local fireworks professional (who wished to remain anonymous) said, "they pretty much have to catch you lighting the fuse" to issue a citation.
It does appear the city council has the support of the police department and its chief. In a Courier article, Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald said:
"his department has plans to ramp up enforcement of the existing fireworks ordinance, cracking down on detonations after hours and outside the three-day July 3-5 window."
What about giving other Waterloo officials the power to issue citations?
In a city council work session on Monday, Boesen recommended giving "code enforcement" and Waterloo Fire Rescue officials the authority to issue citations for violations of the fireworks rules. In a Courier article, Boesen said, "those officials have the authority to write citations for other municipal violations. For example, code enforcement officers would be able to issue citations to people who fail to clean up fireworks debris."
Boesen also wants to change the current ordinance to allow officials to be able to write citations on any day of the year, not just when fireworks are allowed in the state (June 1 through July 8 and Dec. 10 through Jan. 3). Starting in June, the Waterloo Police Department will adopt a zero tolerance policy, and violators will be charged a minimum $375 fine. Officers will also be logging overtime in early July to help with enforcement.
Is this really a good idea?
My question would be, exactly how enthusiastic would firefighters and code enforcement officials be to be out "on patrol" trying to enforce the rules? Possibly stepping into confrontational situations, where (more than likely) drinking alcohol is involved and/or un-happy people facing a hefty fine. I guess we'll find out at the next city council meeting.