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Firework calls to police triple, but council-members say they got less complaints in 2019

Posted: 10:12 PM, Jul 09, 2019
Updated: 2019-07-09 23:12:07-04
Firework calls to police triple, but council-members say they got less complaints in 2019

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The days Omaha Police got the most calls was actually the day after the fourth of July, while also getting a lot of calls the weekend before Independence Day. Which are days residents have been allowed to light off fireworks in the past, but were barred from this year.

Omaha Police got more than 1,500 fireworks complaints from June 15th to July 7th, which is more than triple the amount of complaints they got last year.

But citations were cut in half, from 32 to 16. Omaha Police says even though four officers are dedicated to fireworks during the holiday, it's not easy to hand out tickets.

"A lot of those calls and complaints are anonymous and so when officers will respond to those scenes if they don't witness anything or don't see anything, or say whoever is lighting off those fireworks have gone inside and there's nobody to talk or witnesses to talk to, unfortunately there's nothing they can do on that call,” says Phil Anson, Public Information Officer, Omaha Police Department.

But Omaha city councilmember Aimee Melton also says she was flooded with calls last year about fireworks. so far this year, she only got one complaint from a constituent.

"It maybe the restrictions, it also may be, it got so much attention last year and we put the focus on calling, getting it out to the public to please call the non-emergency line that maybe there was just more news coverage,” says Melton.

So why so many calls to police, but fewer calls to council-members? It's unclear why but OPD and council-member Aimee Melton think more people called because they were told to use the non-emergency number this year.

"So many people are actually afraid to dial 911 because we say it's for emergencies only, but on something like this, I think people liked to hear there's a non-emergency number they can call and they don't have to call 911 for a fireworks complaints,” says Anson.

"Previously when people would contact me, I had no other choice, what our policy was before was to call 911, and people would respond to me, I don't want to call 911,” says Melton.

Councilmembers Melton and Chris Jerram told 3 News Now over the phone, they want more data, but don't expect any more changes to the ordinance this year.