Lt. Phillip George told the Mountain House Community Services District Board of Directors on Wednesday that the sheriff’s office received 36 police calls from the community during the holiday, and only 10 were for fireworks.
He said the two extra deputies, added to the community’s two regular deputies, patrolled Mountain House throughout the holiday. They responded to calls and checked on any area where it appeared illegal fireworks were being used.
Deputies did not witness the use of illegal fireworks, George said, but they did search private property where they were suspected.
The only people found using fireworks were two families who had safe-and-sane fireworks, he said. Safe-and-sane fireworks are those approved by the state fire marshal for use in cities — such as Tracy — where they have been legalized by the local government. They are illegal in Mountain House and other parts of San Joaquin County.
The families consisted of two children, ages 7 and 10, and their parents, and the deputies decided not cite them.
“The families agreed to put them into pots of water that they had in their driveway,” George said.
Directors Jim Lamb said although no citations were issued, hiring the extra deputies succeeded in deterring the use of fireworks in Mountain House.
“I think it was successful,” he said. “It was not cheap, but neither is a house fire.”
Director Andy Su agreed that the goal was not to cite people but to discourage the use of fireworks.
One member of the board was disappointed by the lack of citations. Director Bernice King Tingle said she felt let down by the deputies, explaining that she saw aerial fireworks over the community and would have preferred stronger enforcement and “less of a slap on the hand.”
“I think people should be cited,” Tingle said.
George said that officers who saw aerial fireworks drove to those areas but did not witness anyone setting them off.
Board President Steven Gutierrez said that the deputies did a good job, and Director Celeste Farron said that she agreed with not citing children for illegally using safe-and-sane fireworks.
“You have to catch them to prosecute them,” Farron said, regarding the use of aerial fireworks. “I think you did your job. I think we reached our objective.”
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