Despite a heightened effort to dampen the uses of illegal fireworks in Clark County, citations for the projectiles are few and far between, according to data from the county and local police departments.
Any fireworks that rocket, explode or leave the ground once ignited are illegal in Clark County, but watching the skyline on July 4th you probably wouldn’t know it. The only legal fireworks are marked “safe and sane” and sold by TNT and Phantom. They include sparklers and fireworks that ignite in a small circular area on the ground.
On a mission to curtail the use of illegal fireworks, Clark County developed the website ISpyFireworks.com last year. It encourages anyone who spots illegal fireworks to report the area to law enforcement anonymously as a way to help police collect data for future enforcement. The project is a collaboration between the several organizations, including North Las Vegas Police Department and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.
Last Fourth of July officers and fire inspectors created a multi-agency task force that set out in three-person enforcement teams to actively cite people who use illegal fireworks. Officials repeatedly announced that offenders caught using illegal fireworks will be subject to a $1,000 fine plus disposal fees, which could run hundreds of dollars. About 1,700 pounds of illegal fireworks were confiscated, valued at $135,000.
But the number of citations issued was a fraction of the number of complaints received.
The map above shows complaints logged on You Light It, We Write It campaign’s ISpyFireworks website between June 28 and July 5, 2018. The total number of complaints over that period was 24,636. Most of the complaints — 21,832 — were made on July 4.
Of those thousands of complaints, approximately 50 citations were issued.
It’s likely most of those were issued by LVMPD. The department, which is in charge of law enforcement for the City of Las Vegas and unincorporated Clark County, received 1,949 calls between July 1, 2018 and July 10, 2018 according to data compiled by their department. Only 51 citations were issued.
Laura Meltzer, a spokeswoman for the LVMPD, said officers often can’t determine which property is responsible for the illegal fireworks, making it difficult to hand out citations unless someone is caught in the act. In some cases, people may be reluctant to incriminate their neighbors.
The North Las Vegas Police Department did not have statistics available on fireworks enforcement.
The Henderson Police Department, which does not participate in the county-led collaboration, presides over the City of Henderson which has several hotspots of illegal firework activity according to the heat map. The department received 159 “firework related” calls on July 4 and zero of those calls resulted in citations or arrests.