Illegal fireworks complaints down in Elgin from last year, despite holiday weekend spike

 
 
Updated 7/6/2022 6:10 PM

After a monthlong effort to educate residents and curb the use of illegal fireworks, the Elgin Police Department reported that complaint numbers were down overall compared to 2021, though the pace picked up over the holiday weekend.

Total fireworks calls for service dropped to 477 from June 1 to July 4 this year from 544 during the same period in 2021.

 

Most of those calls, 373, came over July 1 to 4, which is up from 315 during the same window of time last year.

Fireworks calls for service accounted for 32% of all calls to police from July 1-4, compared to 29% last year, said Sgt. Mike Martino, Elgin Police Department's public information officer.

Martino said it's similar to the year before. "Some of the numbers get a little funky, but we tried to keep it as much an apples to apples comparison as we could."

July 4 fell on a Sunday last year, which led to more of a three-day weekend of activities for most people, whereas many started celebrating on Friday this year with the holiday falling on a Monday, Martino said.

The department held a series of "walk and talks" in areas that traditionally see a high volume of fireworks complaints, in addition to neighborhood signage, videos about the dangers of illegal fireworks and a barrage of social media posts reminding people that fireworks are dangerous and prohibited in the city.

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The department also increased the number of detail officers assigned to respond to complaints.

So did it make a difference?

"We'd like to think that it had an impact," Martino said. "Trying to educate people that fireworks are illegal and the fines associated with it, we hope it made a difference."

Martino said it's hard to gauge this year against last year with the large number of event cancellations that happened on July 4 following the mass shooting in Highland Park and storms in the forecast.

"A lot of big things got canceled, so people could have taken it upon themselves to do more of a home thing and blow them off," he said.

Officers issued 13 tickets for fireworks over the four-day holiday weekend and 18 total since June 1. The totals include written warnings.

Fire Chief Robb Cagann said there were "no significant" medical or fire calls related to fireworks this year.

Martino said they'll dig in to the numbers in the coming weeks to see where the highest density of complaints originated to determine where to focus their efforts and energies next year.

"I think all in all, with the total going down, every little bit helps," he said. "We can't stop everybody, but we try our best."

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