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Illegal fireworks use down
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Readers might be interested to hear how public safety services and the community itself were affected during this last Independence Day weekend. During the past decade, it seems the various holidays have become increasingly problematic each year. Use of illegal explosives, aerial fireworks and the discharge of firearms in city limits were rapidly growing problems. This year, Independence Day was busy with a huge volume of calls for service, but luckily, there were no serious incidents.

We expected more problems than were actually experienced in Ceres, based on the fact that the Fourth of July fell on a Friday, the weather forecast called for very hot conditions and we expected more people to stay in town owing to high fuel prices, higher unemployment, and general economic stressors. Fortunately, our concerns did not materialize to the extent expected. I believe we avoided serious problems because of increased fire and police patrols, residents as a whole ignited fewer illegal fireworks, I think we also experienced a certain measure of luck. Officers did issue 10 citations for illegal fireworks, and while there were reports of people discharging firearms, the number of those incidents seemed to be fewer than last Independence Day. There were no reported fires, traffic collisions or injuries associated with Fourth of July activities and celebrations.

During the three-day period, our dispatchers handled 1,044 calls, including 77 9-1-1 calls. Police radio traffic totaled 2,128 separate communications from the police officers, community service officers and volunteers to the dispatchers. To put this in perspective, keep in mind that with the exception of the evening of July 4, there were only two dispatchers on duty at any one time. On the evening of the fourth, there were three dispatchers on duty. In total, the dispatchers handled a whopping 3,172 radio/telephone actions during the three-day period! The fire service handled 41 calls during the period and spent many hours showing their presence throughout the neighborhoods.

In previous Fourth of July holidays, the city suffered from extensive littering resulting from fireworks and parties. This year, I observed a significant reduction of this problem. Most residents diligently swept up and cleaned any fireworks waste after they were through. The change was obvious from last year and the city overall looked much better in comparison. It was very rewarding to see this kind of community pride and care.

We are off to a good start in improving how this community celebrates special holidays. With more awareness and commitment to the quality of life and safety, we will do even better next year.