Public Safety

Cedar Rapids police crack down on illegal fireworks

Increase in citations include four from Wednesday night

Fireworks explode in the distance while spectators watch. (Gazette file)
Fireworks explode in the distance while spectators watch. (Gazette file)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Cedar Rapids police have stepped up enforcement of illegal fireworks displays, taking a different tack after a barrage of complaints since commercial fireworks became legal in Iowa.

The department assigned officers specifically to respond to fireworks complaints, which led to several citations this year.

On Wednesday night, police cited four people with fireworks violations including a 17-year-old boy who was throwing a firework out of a moving vehicle, said Greg Buelow, Cedar Rapids public safety spokesperson.

“The use of fireworks are prohibited within the city limits of Cedar Rapids,” Buelow said in an email. “Fireworks can have a negative effect on veterans with stress disorders, children, and pets.”

So far, Cedar Rapids police have made 15 citations for fireworks compared with just four last year. The fine is up to $625 and a court appearance is required.

On Wednesday evening, Justin Dean Coder, 33; Jeremiah D. Levendusky, 37; and Dakota Alan Moser, 24; were cited with fireworks violations. Coder and Levendusky were cited for incidents at their homes, while Moser for an incident at 201 Wilson Ave. SW. The teen who was cited was not named.

The Cedar Rapids City Council banned fireworks use by the public and restricted sales to industrial zones in November 2017 after an uproar of complaints to police and city officials, as well as a handful of injuries and damages, after city officials had initially allowed fireworks use and sales to the maximum extent approved under a new state law.

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Earlier in 2017, the Iowa Legislature legalized commercial fireworks use and sales around the Fourth of July and New Year’s.

Buelow noted complaints were down 60 percent in the month of June compared with June 2018. The first three days of July saw 117 complaints, he said.

Last year saw a 19-year old male lose several fingers when a firework discharged in his hand, and six fires caused by illegal fireworks resulted in over $50,000 damage, he said.

He added that SAFE-CR, a program designed to hold accountable properties that regularly have police calls, will be sending notices of violations as well. Properties deemed a nuisance property will be subject to being billed for calls for service, Buelow said.

l Comments: (319) 398-8310; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

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