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Ceres Police gear up to fight illegal fireworks
• Stiff fines for violators
Jeff Serpa
Ceres Fire Battalion Chief Jeff Serpa looks over some of the illegal fireworks that were turned into the station during an amnesty event and some that were seized on the Fourth of July. Anything that explodes – like firecrackers or M-80s – or leaves the ground – such as bottle rockets and aerial fireworks – are illegal to possess and ignite. - photo by Jeff Benziger

The loud pops of illegal firecrackers and the occasional launching of illegal aerial fireworks has already begun and yet the Fourth of July holiday season is still weeks away. But Ceres Police are drumming up a public relations campaign in hopes of minimizing community disturbances from anything that explodes or leaves the ground.

Earlier this year the Ceres City Council handed police another tool to crackdown on possession and/or detonation of illegal firework devices – an increase in the fine from $1,000 to $2,500 per violation.

“If you are found to be igniting the fireworks, or allowing it to happen from your home, you will be issued a citation,” said Ceres Police Department spokesman Sgt. Keith Griebel.

Officers will be out specifically looking for people using illegal fireworks, which are inherently dangerous and credited with injuries and starting a high number of home and grass fires. Any firework that does not display the California “safe and sane” identification or anything that launches into the sky or explodes is an illegal firework and officers will be specifically looking for anybody using these types of fireworks.

“We ask you to please be respectful of our veterans and the pets living in our neighborhoods. Loud unexpected explosions from these illegal fireworks can cause anxiety, nervousness, and paranoia for many in our community. Those in our community suffering from PTSD are most at risk.”

The city will be offering a “safe surrender” or amnesty location for those who wish to get rid of any illegal fireworks they may possess. Any unlit illegal fireworks may be surrendered at the fire station or contact any Ceres Police officer. When bringing fireworks to the police headquarters park and leave them in the vehicle and call the Ceres Police Dispatch center at 538-5713 and an officer will meet come out to receive the contraband. Illegal fireworks or any explosive device cannot be brought into the lobby.

“Those wishing to surrender an illegal firework can do so without fear of penalty,” said Sgt. Griebel. “Our officers will accept them with no questions asked.”

Those who would like to report the use of illegal fireworks, is urged to call (209) 538-LOUD (538-5683). Staff will be monitoring this number approximately a week prior to the holiday. You may also download the app “Nail ‘em” and report any violations from any smart phone to the police department. The Nail’em app is a free app available through the App Store or Google Play.