Springfield police see ‘dramatic increase’ in fireworks reports, others do not

The city of Springfield has seen a “dramatic increase” in the use of fireworks - while other communities in the area have not.

Springfield Police Chief Lee Graf said the police division tends to always see an increase in reports of fireworks because of the Fourth of July holiday.

Between May 1 and June 23 in 2019, the Springfield Police Division responded to 25 calls referencing fireworks. During that same time period this year, the Springfield police responded to 199 calls referencing fireworks, Springfield Police Captain Brad Moos said.

Springfield’s significant jump mirrors a trend sweeping the country. For example, Boston reported a 2,300 percent increase, while on the other side of the country, Pasadena, Calif. reported a 400 percent increase in complaints to police about fireworks, according to a report from CNN.

The reports of fireworks are widespread throughout the community, Graf said.

“It is illegal,” Graf said. “For people just having firecrackers, the little, small things you remember as a kid, or the bigger stuff - they’re not allowed to have that and they’re not allowed to use it.”

If the Springfield Police Division receives a report of fireworks, officers will respond to the report.

“An arrest on general things like setting off fireworks or having fireworks in your possession is a first degree misdemeanor,” Graf said.

Consumer-grade includes fireworks like bottle rockets, firecrackers and roman candles. Discharging commercial-grade fireworks without the proper license is a third-degree felony. The Ohio House recently passed legislation to allow wider use of consumer-grade fireworks. However, Gov. Mike DeWine has said he does support the bill.

READ: Old Fashioned Fireworks in Springfield canceled

German Township Police Chief Michael Stitzel said he recently has received a “minimal” number of calls regarding fireworks, but about a month ago it seemed like he was receiving calls once or twice a week.

Residents in the area were reporting “loud bangs,” Stitzel said.

He explained that they were able to narrow the reports down to one area and heard gunshots that always ended in a “huge explosion.”

“I feel it’s what they call Tannerite and what people are doing I think they’re abusing the Tannerite,” Stitzel said.

Tannerite is an exploding target that people shoot. Stitzel thinks individuals may be mixing five or six of them together.

Stitzel said during the Fourth of July, there are always people “expressing themselves with fireworks.”

“If it’s not in a malicious manner, we like to give everyone a fair warning to shut it down,” Stitzel said.

Urbana Police Lt. Josh Jacobs said the Urbana Division of Police has not seen an increase in reports of fireworks.

READ: Urbana fireworks still on, other Independence Day events canceled

“We don’t have an overabundance amount of calls for them, but we do have them come in occasionally,” Jacobs said.

Village of Enon Police Chief Mike Holler said the Enon Police Department has received “a couple of reports” regarding fireworks.

Graf said he understands that it can be a very frustrating time for citizens - whether the fireworks bother them, their animals or Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Some individuals are “being extremely impolite in the way they are doing it” by letting the fireworks off throughout the night and early morning, he said.

Graf added that it is difficult for his officers to locate where the fireworks are sometimes because in a city environment the sounds of fireworks can bounce off of houses and buildings.

City of Springfield Commissioner David Estrop, in a post on his Facebook page, encouraged residents to call the Springfield Police Division at 937-324-7680 if they hear or see someone setting fireworks off.

“Any information like pictures, videos, names, addresses, license plates, etc will help us,” Estrop said.

He added, “We really need your help in catching the people responsible for this craziness.”

The Springfield Police Division usually receives an increase of calls reporting fireworks two weeks before the Fourth of July and one week after, Graf said.

“We wrestle with this every year around this time,” Graf said. “It’s just so frustrating because the use of it is so prevalent at this time of year.”

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