Tacoma sees rise in fireworks complaints, drop in citations

More Tacoma residents complained about Fourth of July fireworks this year, but police handed out fewer tickets than ever.

Officers received 630 complaints and issued four citations, down from 17 last year, when 583 complaints were received.

Because fireworks are illegal within city limits, officers also confiscated fireworks they came across and ended up destroying 20 pounds. That’s down from 100 pounds in 2015.

The decrease in both numbers likely is because fewer officers were available to respond to fireworks complaints than in the past, police spokeswoman Loretta Cool said.

“We were short-handed on the street,” she said.

Up to six officers were assigned to respond solely to fireworks calls during emphasis patrols from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. June 25 and June 26 and from July 1 to July 5.

“Due to call responder staffing needs, not all the emphasis missions were able to be fully staffed,” Police Chief Don Ramsdell wrote in a memo to City Manager T.C. Broadnax.

Police and firefighters coordinated in the weeks leading up to the holiday and handed out educational fliers about how dangerous fireworks can be and that they are illegal in the city.

Those caught setting off fireworks in Tacoma are subject to a $257 fine.

Fireworks are legal in Pierce County but sheriff’s deputies still fielded 392 fireworks-related calls for service from July 1 to July 5.

Puyallup police said they handled 54 fireworks complaints on July 4.

In addition to citations, fires in Tacoma also saw a significant drop around the holiday.

Last year, firefighters responded to 54 blazes due to record-setting heat and dry conditions. That dropped this year to 17 fires from June 26 to July 6. Most were small brush fires, spokesman Joe Meinecke said.

Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653