June 1, 2007

July 4th enfocement "blitz" $$$

Why dont we just take the money spent on all this extra enforcement and give it to the so called sports clubs that claim they need their fireworks profits ("crack money") to get by each year? No matter what we do this costs taxpayers money just so people can blow smoke into the air and send polluted runoff down the gutter and into the ocean each July.

Police to step up efforts on fireworks for July 4
Force will deploy extra officers near holiday, distribute information.

By Karen Robes, Staff writer
Article Launched: 05/31/2007 10:37:04 PM PDT

LAKEWOOD - The heat from last year's house explosion involving illegal fireworks materials may have cooled, but the law enforcement and public information efforts that stemmed from it have not.

The city and Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department have been working on a law enforcement and public outreach campaign to curb illegal fireworks activity.

Leading up to the July 4 holiday, the department will deploy about 48 deputies on top of the station's normal deployment and has a team in place to investigate any information leading to illegal fireworks dealers and users.

"We will maintain a zero tolerance position," said service area Lt. Terry Benjestorf.

Last year, the agencies took a more proactive stance on fireworks enforcement and prevention in the wake of a March 2006 explosion on Dunrobin Avenue that destroyed one home and damaged several others. Brian Miller was arrested after the explosive material he used to make fireworks was found at his house. He was later convicted and is serving time in state prison.

"One of the best things we found last year was the feedback from our citizens who felt as though it was a safer Fourth of July," Benjestorf said. "Our objective is to continue to improve on that level of safety."

The city also is spending about $26,000 of general fund money to inform residents through print, cable television, mass e-mails, the city's Web site and mailings targeted to block captains and other stakeholders, said spokesman Don Waldie.

The slogan, "Keep it legal. Keep it safe. Don't blow it." will be on street and park banners, and on fliers that will be handed out by nonprofit groups selling fireworks as fundraisers.

"We think our campaign from last year gives us some momentum into this year," Waldie said.

Lakewood allows the use and sale of "Safe and Sane" fireworks - state-approved fireworks that do not explode or shoot up in the sky.

Residents may only possess Safe and Sanes from July 1 to July 4 and may only use them from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on July 4.

Karen Robes can be reached at karen.robes@presstelegram.com or (562) 499-1303.

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