The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office this year stepped up enforcement measures for people using illegal fireworks on July 4.
Four people were cited on the Coastside for possessing and using illegal fireworks, according to Sheriff’s spokeswoman Rosemerry Blankswade.
That’s at least three more than last year, when the Sheriff’s Office only issued one fireworks-related citation for the entire county.
From about 4 p.m. to midnight on July 4 the Sheriff’s Office received 36 calls for service on the Coastside and 107 from throughout the county related to fireworks complaints.
Blankswade also stated 150 people on the Coastside were contacted by deputies and educated about illegal fireworks. A total of 80 pounds of illegal fireworks were seized over the course of the holiday.
“We did change our approach with more enforcement action this year,” Blankswade said.
The city of Half Moon Bay sent out a newsletter on July 1 that reminded residents that fireworks are prohibited in the city. “Law enforcement and fire personnel will be on the lookout for illegal fireworks, and for any celebratory gunshots. Violators will be subject to citation or arrest,” stated the newsletter.
As part of the contract renewal with the Sheriff’s Office, an additional patrol car with two deputies was assigned to work on the Coastside on July 4. On a typical shift, two to three deputies are assigned to cover Half Moon Bay for the evening hours.
July 4 is a busy day for the Sheriff’s Office, Blankswade noted. Sheriff’s officials say deputies need to witness illegal fireworks usage in order to issue citations.
“We have to go to the location and see the person in the act,” Capt. Saul Lopez said. “Sometimes we will show up to a gathering in the streets and people will disperse, making it difficult to enforce, unless a person admits to using them.”
Only two cities in the county allow for the use of “safe and sane” fireworks, San Bruno and Pacifica, and citations issued in those jurisdictions are only given to those participating in illegal displays.
This year, the San Bruno Police Department responded to 147 fireworks-related calls for service and issued 21 citations for possession or use of illegal fireworks. Those arrested were released after being issued a citation of a $1,000 fine, according to the press release from the police department. A total of approximately 65 pounds of illegal fireworks were confiscated.
The Pacifica Police Department reported 229 fireworks-related calls for service and 19 citations for possession or use of illegal fireworks, each carrying a $1,000 fine.