The evening of July 4 was a busy night for the Gilroy Police Department, which fielded more than 400 calls for service and wrote more than 60 citations for illegal fireworks violations.
Police also reported that before the night was over, a Gilroy man with several warrants out for his arrest was detained with illegal fireworks, methamphetamine and a loaded handgun.
The Gilroy Police Department deployed 12 officers more than usual for the evening. These officers were dedicated to enforcing fireworks violations, according to Gilroy Police Sgt. Jason Smith. Most of these officers patrolled in undercover vehicles, allowing them to keep a low profile before issuing citations and confiscating contraband.
This July 4 holiday, officers used the FOREalert smartphone application to allow residents to easily report possible fireworks violations. Almost 400 people in Gilroy downloaded the app. Officers received reports in real-time directly from the app to their tablet computers in their patrol cars, shortening police response times and lessening the burden on the emergency dispatch center that would have received these calls otherwise, according to Smith.
Throughout the evening, officers responded to 410 calls for service. Of these, 176 calls were related to fireworks, according to Smith. Between 4pm July 4 and 2am July 5, the dispatch center received 309 calls for service; 175 of these were for fireworks.
Citizens using the FOREalert app collectively sent 438 reports of illegal fireworks in Gilroy, according to police. The app was active from 6pm July 4 to 12:15am July 5.
Police also noted they issued 18 criminal citations for fireworks violations—an increase from 8 citations during the 2017 holiday. In addition, officers wrote 44 administrative citations for people who allegedly violated the city fireworks ordinance; that’s an increase from three such citations in 2017.
At one point during the evening of July 4, officers on patrol contacted two people were verbally arguing near the intersection of Monterey Road and Ervin Court in Gilroy. One of these subjects, Michael Perez, 41, gave police a false name and fled the area on foot, according to Smith.
Officers chased him and Perez was captured after running a short distance, police said. He was allegedly in possession of methamphetamine and a number of rounds of .45-caliber ammunition.
The officers searched Perez’ vehicle nearby and found a loaded .45-caliber handgun in the passenger compartment, illegal fireworks and drug paraphernalia, police said. He also had numerous warrants for his arrest. Perez was arrested and booked at Santa Clara County Jail.
The public can call the Gilroy Police non-emergency line to report fireworks violations: (408) 846-0350. For emergencies, call 911.