RICHMOND, CALIF. – Richmond Mayor Tom Butt announced that he will reward residents with $2,500 for reporting illegal fireworks to the Richmond Police Department. However, in order to receive the cash reward a resident’s report must lead to an arrest and successful prosecution, or a perpetrator’s payment of a fine.
The mayor’s announcement comes as the sights and booming sounds of illegal fireworks return to Richmond neighborhoods – a continuing trend throughout the Bay Area that spans several months.
“People are sick of fireworks going off in their neighborhoods, and they’re fed up that the people setting off fireworks aren’t being caught,” said Mayor Tom Butt. “The danger of fire and injury resulting from fireworks is perhaps the highest we have ever seen. I don’t want to see an apartment building or house burned down, or someone lose a hand, because they didn’t weigh the risk of harm. The effect on pets is another serious result of illegal fireworks.”
Under Richmond Municipal Code Chapter 11.05, possessing, selling, giving away, storing, using, or discharging any fireworks is a misdemeanor punishable by a $1,000 fine or up to 6 months in jail.
For the mayor, if the public wants to stop fireworks, they have to play a role in identifying the location where they are being set off.
Richmond Police Chief Bisa French has described the difficulty in making arrests for fireworks violations, saying, “We encourage callers to be specific in guiding us to where the fireworks are coming from. Often we see them in the area but can’t pinpoint a specific street or home. By the time we make it to the area, the participants are nowhere to be found.”
Last year, the Richmond Police Department received approximately 2,533 calls for service regarding the use of illegal fireworks. Despite those calls, department records show that only one citation was issued in 2020 related to fireworks.
Many more complaints about illegal fireworks can be found on social media platforms like Facebook and Nextdoor where residents flock to community chat groups to share videos and stories about frightened pets, being awaken in the night by sounds of explosions, and experiencing flashbacks due to PTSD.
“At this point, people are pleading for any help they can get to have some peace and quiet. If you live in Richmond, you can help your neighbors by calling 9-1-1 if you see someone in the act of using fireworks. Doing so may even get you $2,500,” said Mayor Butt.
The reward money for the mayor’s initiative will come from the Mayor’s Community Fund.