Mayor Butt and City Councilmen,
I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday. Richmond Police Department staff were extremely busy. As I’ve mentioned before, fireworks are the worst they’ve ever been across the entire Bay Area if not the nation. Last night we had 23 officers working the evening/early morning hours, 10 of which were on overtime. Even with the additional officers we were overwhelmed with fireworks calls just as we have been for the past few weeks. Our officers responded to 299 fireworks calls for service. We also responded to a large side show, a shooting, several shots fired calls, and multiple vehicle collisions with injuries. The beat officers also focused on fireworks in between their other calls for service. We confiscated a lot of fireworks but it did not make any impact on the fireworks we encountered across the city.
We knew this year was worst than previous when we started receiving calls and hearing fireworks as early as April. We asked for help from federal law enforcement agencies like ATF but they said fireworks weren’t an area of focus for them. We did partner with our neighboring agencies (El Cerrito and San Pablo). We did several social media campaigns regarding the hazards of fireworks, hosted a webinar on fireworks, and passed out yard signs to residents to discourage the use of fireworks. Two weeks ago we re-assigned our special investigations section to focus their efforts on locating fireworks vendors and offenders. None of these efforts were successful in decreasing the use of fireworks.
I know this issue has had a huge affect on our community. Like all of you, I’ve received a ton of emails from angry residents demanding that something be done about the fireworks. Unfortunately, we just don’t have the necessary resources to have an impact.
Moving forward, my hope is that the amount of illegal fireworks that were used across the state will gain the attention of our state and federal law enforcement partners. There needs to be a dedicated task force to impact the underground sales of these illegal fireworks. I will continue to urge ATF to get involved and take a pro-active role in addressing fireworks sales. This problem is only going to get worst if its not attacked at multiple levels.
Lastly, here are some of the confiscated fireworks.