HUBER HEIGHTS, Ohio (WDTN) – Residents of Huber Heights are getting tired of the pre-Fourth of July fireworks.
When the Huber Heights Police Department posted the penalties for using fireworks in the city on its Facebook page on Monday, 100 comments followed, many from residents who say they call the police but they don’t respond to complaints.
Huber Heights Public Affairs Officer David Garlow said that isn’t the case. He said if the police get any call to respond, they send a cruiser, but often it is difficult to track down fireworks because of a lack of details.
“If we get a call, we do send an officer or multiple officers to investigate,” Garlow told WDTN.com. “We’ve had people say, ‘We heard them in this area,’ but those areas can be big. We ask the public to help us by being as specific as possible. If they can’t give a specific address, that’s fine. Sometimes we can triangulate an area if we get enough calls, but the more information they can give the better.”
Garlow said Huber Heights has had more fireworks calls this year than in previous years. He said reading news reports, it seems to be the case throughout the country.
“I don’t think it’s just Ohio,” Garlow said. “It’s up around the county and I don’t know why.”
West Carrollton Officer Maureen Flaute said the city investigates any complaint it receives. For the Fourth of July on Saturday, she said West Carrollton would have extra officers on patrol, some specifically assigned to fireworks complaints. “Hopefully things will be calm and quiet and people will keep safe. But we will cite people if we have to and if we are forced to.”
Huber Heights and West Carrollton both have city ordinances making the use of fireworks illegal. The crime is classified as a first-degree misdemeanor and carries a $1,000 fine and could lead to time in jail. It’s the same penalty as state law.
Garlow said Huber Heights officers use their own discretion on whether to cite someone for a fireworks violation. Given the penalty, he said he believes most would rather not arrest someone. “I don’t think an officer would take someone to jail on that offense,” Garlow said. “It would have to be a repeat offender or someone who was endangering people.”
Flaute said it is difficult for officers to track down people using fireworks if they are setting them off sporadically. She said many will fire some, then go inside and wait a while, hoping to avoid the police. “That is one of the problems with investigating this type of complaint,” Flaute said. “By the time we get to the area they are done, or they go in for a while because they don’t want to have to deal with (the police).”
Many of the fireworks people can buy in Ohio aren’t legal to be used in the state. Upon purchase, buyers have to sign a form stating they are taking the fireworks out of state to use. Last year, the Ohio Fire Chief’s Association endorsed an Ohio Senate bill that would make it legal to use fireworks purchased in Ohio legal.