Fourth of July was no picnic in Gilroy


Loudest in history, some said
The Fourth of July was no picnic for the Gilroy Police Department, which received 121 fireworks-related calls for service Tuesday night, issued eight criminal citations and confiscated 336 pounds of illegal fireworks.  The GPD received a five-year high of 275 calls to dispatch between 4 p.m. and 2 a.m. on Independence Day, compared to 251 calls received in 2016. Eight criminal citations were issued this year for fireworks; none was issued last year.
GPD also confiscated 66 pounds of illegal fireworks from a vehicle stopped for a fireworks violation on Tuesday and  confiscated firearms after serving a narcotics related search warrant on Friday.
Residents with long memories said it was the worst night of noise in decades.
“I’ve lived the past 40 years west of Wren Avenue and July 4th, 2017 was the worst in all the years we’ve lived in this area,” said Donald George Perino. “We should prohibit the Safe and Sane fireworks because all they’re doing is exploding M80’s and firecrackers and maybe gunshots. What a terrible evening and even the past few days have been.”
Gilroy police cracked down with more staff and more citations than last year.
“This is a good example of the Gilroy Police Department’s proactive approach to combatting illegal fireworks during the Fourth of July holiday,” Gilroy Police Department Sgt Jason Smith said.  “Due to the good work of our officers, these fireworks and many more weren’t lit, which lessened the chance of someone getting hurt or something catching on fire. We had 12 additional officers working on the night that were dedicated solely to the suppression and enforcement of firework violations.”
The eight criminal citations issued  included three administrative citations. The driver of the vehicle from which 66 pounds of fireworks were confiscated, was issued a criminal citation.
“If we have probable cause to believe that a certain person was responsible for the use or possession of illegal fireworks, we issue a criminal citation to that individual,” Smith said. “If we have probable cause that illegal fireworks are associated with a specific residence, if an officer sees fireworks shooting up from a backyard of a residence, but we do not know who is responsible or no one at the residence takes responsibility, we issue an administrative citation. The administrative citation gets routed to the Fire Marshall and the person responsible for the home can ultimately be fined.”
Aside from the busy evening for GPD, many Gilroyans expressed extreme annoyance over what they saw as an increase in fireworks-related nuisances.
Linda Petty Fruchey took to Facebook to express her displeasure.
“To all our neighbors who shot off illegal, loud, bomb like fireworks with a vengeance last night, we just returned from St. Louise ER where my husband, a Vietnam Veteran, suffered a PTSD event from the bomb noises and now has six stitches above his eye,” Fruchey posted. “Your ‘fun’ can terrify animals and veterans.”
The festivities got off the ground starting on Friday when the GPD fielded 10 fireworks-related calls, which increased incrementally until Tuesday when the calls to dispatch reached a crescendo.
“Going on statistics, I would say this year was average,” Smith said. “If you read the online forums, it sounds like people believe there are the more aerial types or larger fireworks, but the calls for service were about the same.”
In comparison over five years, the Fourth of July  this year was more than the previous high of 258 calls in 2015. The number of total citations issued this year, 11, is low compared to the high of 32 total citations issued in 2013.