WHEAT RIDGE, Colo. (KDVR) — As police start to crack down on fireworks, the Wheat Ridge Police Department has ignited a controversy: not only reporting your neighbors, but asking you to take pictures of violators.
They are taking illegal fireworks very seriously this year, worried about the fire danger, pets and people suffering from PTSD. But not everyone is on board with taking pictures of their neighbors to turn them in.
Fireworks complaints are the number one call for service this time of year for many police departments.
“This time of year, we are inundated with calls for service about fireworks. It starts several weeks before the Fourth of July and goes well after the Fourth of July,” Commander Jon Pickett said.
The department has cancelled days off and are bringing officers in on overtime to have more officers on the streets.
“The problem is we have so many calls and only so many officers. So the officers respond, often find evidence there was fireworks or they see fireworks in the distance, but there is no one we can cite because of the fireworks,” Pickett said.
So Wheat Ridge police are asking the community to help them out. In a Facebook post, they said they need “evidence to identify who was actually setting them off
“Let us know who is lighting off the fireworks. If they feel safe and comfortable, get pictures or video of it. This way we can enforce the law, write tickets and contact the people who are actually setting off the illegal fireworks,” Pickett said.
But some residents are hesitant to get involved.
“It doesn’t bother me, as long as it’s been raining,” Barb Burrow said. “It’s not that big of a deal. That’s ridiculous. That’s what I think.”
“I’ve done (fireworks), so I wouldn’t snitch on nobody,” resident Breanna said.
“I got burned by fireworks when I was 9 years old, and I’m scared of them,” Anna Carranza said, But she said she would not turn in her neighbors.
Violators could face up to $999 fine and a year in jail or a combination of the two. All fireworks are banned here in Wheat Ridge, including sparklers and fountains. And across the state, it is illegal to have any fireworks that leave the ground.
The department is also asking residents not to call 911 to report fireworks complaints. Jefferson County has set up a non-emergency call center to handle calls. The fireworks hotline number is 303-980-7340 between the hours of 7:30 p.m. – 12:30 a.m.