SACRAMENTO -- Get ready for fun and fireworks! The Fourth of July is just over a month away and the Sacramento Police Department is already working to make sure everyone stays safe this Independence Day.
As they dance across the night sky, fireworks can be a beautiful sight but, in the wrong hands, those explosions of color can turn ugly — fast.
That’s why the Fireworks Mitigation Task Force is launching preventative patrols to keep illegal fireworks off our streets.
“Fireworks can be really dangerous, and they can be unpredictable and really hurt you,” said Karl Chan.
Sacramento police officer Karl Chan has seen everything from serious burns to property damage and even the loss of limbs, all because of fireworks.
“Especially around this time of the year they are a huge source of fires actually starting,” Chan said.
Officer Chan is one of 14 officers and three fire investigators making up the Fireworks Mitigation Task Force which is focused specifically on rounding up illegal fireworks over the next five weeks.
“Physically be out patrolling the neighborhoods looking for instances of illegal fireworks going off,” Chan said.
The task force is also taking community tips to figure out where illegal fireworks are being used.
“We’ll take an investigative approach where we can really look at the house and see what’s going on. And if we have to, we can serve search warrants at the house,” Chan explained.
This is the task force’s second year in operation and for the first time, they’ll have access to a helicopter, giving them eyes from above.
“They’re able to pinpoint exactly that location where the illegal fireworks are coming from and direct ground units to that location,” said officer Marcus Basquez.
Last year, officers seized more than 2,300 pounds of illegal fireworks and made multiple arrests; they’re hoping that’s not necessary this go around.
“We really want people to be able to celebrate the Fourth of July and just do it in a safe manner. But we will take enforcement action if we have to,” Basquez said.
For a first offense with illegal fireworks, fines can be up to $1,000 plus jail time. If you have more than 100 pounds of fireworks, the punishments get even more severe.
If you’d like to report the use of illegal fireworks, you can do so anonymously by sending an email to: email@example.com