As thousands of people turn out to ooh and ahh over the city-sponsored firework display downtown on July 3 and to watch the parades and soapboxes derbies on July 4, police will be out in full force keeping the peace.
July 3-4 are by far the two busiest days of the year for the Juneau Police Department, and JPD says they are staffing accordingly.
“Basically, every officer that works for us, from the chief of police down to the newest hire, will be working either the night of the third or the day of the fourth,” JPD spokesman Lt. David Campbell said in an interview.
JPD’s 39 uniformed officers will be doing crowd control, patrolling for drunken drivers on the roads and responding to crimes against people and property in addition to responding to regular 911 calls.
“It’s kind of a mix-mash of a lot of different things, it runs the gambit,” Campbell said when asked what kinds of things people on the street get in trouble for on Independence Day.
One year, Campbell arrested a man for driving drunk in the cordoned-off area on Douglas in the middle of the parade.
“Most of it tends to be the disorderly conduct, alcohol-related type cases,” he added. “This is my 20th (time working the) Fourth of July, and it definitely is more of a party, rowdy, atmosphere than at other times.”
JPD is often flooded with complaints about fireworks, and they will be responding to those, too, Campbell said. They’re doing it a little differently this year, he noted.
JPD is asking anyone with a fireworks complaint to call the JPD business line at 500-0600 (unless it’s an emergency, in which case call 911), and the dispatchers will place the complaint in a que for available officers to respond to.
Campbell said they’re making an extra effort to make sure officers respond to such complaints, but that noise complaints fall low on their list of priorities. The first priorities are crimes against people and property, then public order and nuisance-type calls, then noise complaints, he said.
“We don’t ignore them, but they are prioritized based on our other calls for service, and if we have crimes against people, those take priority,” Campbell said.
JPD hopes its presence on the streets will help deter crime, Campbell said. He added that there is no exception to the open container laws on the Fourth.
“We don’t want to be party poopers or a big wet blanket out there,” Campbell said. “We want people to have fun, but we want them to do it responsibly. A successful Fourth for us is when we don’t have these outrageous calls or fights or domestics. If we can just be a visible presence, and help people make responsible choices, then it’s a success on our end.”
For those wondering, fireworks are legal to set off in a residential neighborhood. “Salable” fireworks are allowed but “dangerous fireworks” are not. Read the state statute online at www.juneauempire.com to learn more about the law.
Sec. 18.72.100. Definitions.
In this chapter and fireworks regulations adopted in the state fire safety code,
(1) “dangerous fireworks” includes all fireworks that are not defined as salable fireworks;
(2) “fire safety code” means the fire safety code of the state adopted and administered by the division of fire prevention of the Department of Public Safety;
(3) “fireworks” means salable fireworks or dangerous fireworks;
(4) “salable fireworks” are 1.4 G fireworks, as defined by the National Fire Protection Association, and, more specifically, shall include and be limited to the following:
(A) roman candles, not exceeding 10 balls spaced uniformly in the tube, total pyrotechnic composition not to exceed 20 grams each in weight, any inside tube diameter not to exceed 3/8 inch;
(B) skyrockets with sticks, total pyrotechnic composition not to exceed 20 grams each in weight, and the inside tube diameter not to exceed 1/2 inch, with the rocket sticks being securely fastened to the tubes;
(C) helicopter type rockets, total pyrotechnic composition not to exceed 20 grams each in weight, and the inside tube diameter not to exceed 1/2 inch;
(D) cylindrical fountains, total pyrotechnic composition not to exceed 75 grams each in weight, and the inside tube diameter not to exceed 3/4 inch;
(E) cone fountains, total pyrotechnic composition not to exceed 50 grams each in weight;
(F) wheels, total pyrotechnic composition not to exceed 60 grams for each driver unit or 240 grams for each complete wheel, and the inside tube diameter of driver units not to exceed 1/2 inch;
(G) illuminating torches and colored fire in any form, total pyrotechnic composition not to exceed 100 grams each in weight;
(H) dipped sticks, the pyrotechnic composition of which contains chlorate or perchlorate, that do not exceed five grams, and sparklers, the composition of which does not exceed 100 grams each and that contains no magnesium or magnesium and a chlorate or perchlorate;
(I) mines and shells of which the mortar is an integral part, total pyrotechnic composition not to exceed 40 grams each in weight;
(J) firecrackers with soft casings, the external dimensions of which do not exceed one and one-half inches in length or one-quarter inch in diameter, total pyrotechnic composition not to exceed two grains each in weight;
(K) novelties consisting of two or more devices enumerated in this paragraph when approved by the Bureau of Explosives.