More Columbia Police Officers Patrol for Fireworks

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COLUMBIA - Extra Columbia Police officers will start work Monday to enforce the city's fireworks ordinance.

The Columbia Police Department will have two additional two-person patrol units working June 30- July 5 to handle firework ordinance violations.

"It's [fireworks] our number one complaint until around July 5," said Sergeant Michael Hestir. "It drains a lot of resources from other things."

Hestir said the department pays officers overtime to help with the large number of complaints.

Sergeant Robert Dochler said officers will patrol "typically high-problem areas" that have had lots of fireworks complaints calls in the past and respond to complaints called in to Joint Communications.

An ordinance passed in October 2012 made it illegal to possess or discharge fireworks within the city limits, and the police department classifies the crime as a misdemeanor. Dochler and Hestir said officers will be enforcing the ordinance.

"I think a lot of people don't realize the city passed an ordinance," said Hestir.

Dan Stockman lives in Columbia, but usually puts on his annual Fouth of July display at a friend's property ouside the city limits. He said he thinks the extra monitoring is more of a precaution than a necessity.

"It's kind of like monitoring drinking during a football game," Stockman said. "If you do things in a controlled manner where it's not going to hurt anybody else and it's not dangerous, then you'll probably be OK."

Stockman said he understands there are probably people who will abuse the city's policy.

"Ultimately, if it's againt the law, it's against the law," Stockman said. "But if you're smart about it, stay in the county and outside the city limits, then it shouldn't be a problem." 

If you are planning to shoot fireworks in Boone County, the Boone County Fire Protection District has some tips to stay safe:

  • Read the instructions before lighting fireworks
  • Keep a good distance once they're lit
  • Supervise Children
  • Keep a bucket of water close by
  • Cool off fireworks beofre throwing them away

"And a good thing to do after you're all done is kind of patrol your area," said Boone County Fire Captain Martina Pounds. "When you're cleaning up, patrol the area to make sure there's no stray fireworks landed in your trash or your garage or somewhere like that."

Dochler also said additional officers will also be on duty for the downtown fireworks display on July 4 to provide extra security and to assist with traffic after the show.

If you want to report a fireworks complaint, the department asks that you call the Joint Communications non-emergency number at (573) 442-6131 instead of 9-1-1.