Police prepare for illegal fireworks displays - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Police prepare for illegal fireworks displays

The Fourth of July is now only a week away -- and that has some people so concerned about illegal fireworks they complained to City Council Tuesday night. Even though fireworks are sold in Lawton -- it is illegal to set them off within city limits at any time. You can only light fireworks on the Fourth of July, and the only designated place this year is out at Lake Lawtonka. City Council outlawed the fire crackers to protect people from possible injury, and guard homes from potential fires.

Every year the Lawton Police Department gets thousands of calls from people saying their neighbors are illegally setting off fireworks. "It's an issue we fight every year," said City Council Member Randy Warren, District 8. "It's been an issue as long as I can remember."

But the problem is -- the police have to catch you actually putting flame to fuse. "If we actually catch someone in the process of popping off a firework, or catch them actually doing it, we will file charges on them, we will issue a citation," said Lawton Police Chief Ronnie Smith.

That citation will be for illegally lighting fireworks within city limits -- an ordinance city council passed for your own protection. "People just aren't responsible," Warren said. "And it's a small percentage of the people that aren't responsible, but they ruin it for everybody."

But if you're caught lighting fireworks inside city limits -- you could get tagged for more than just a citation. The police can also technically fine you for littering, which is an additional $750 fine. "There's no ifs, ands or buts about it -- it's $750 and you could get community service picking up trash," Smith said.

But even these warnings haven't seemed to deter people from celebrating Independence Day the American way. "I don't know that there is a solution," Warren said. "If we banned firework sales within the city limits, people are just going to go outside of the city and buy them. I do think that it's a little bit hypocritical to say 'You're not allowed to discharge them, but we'll be more than happy to sell them to you.'"

Bottom line -- Smith says you need to follow the laws, or you may have to pay for it. "If you're caught in the city limits, and you're popping fireworks, we will file charges," Smith said. "Just because you can buy them in the city limits doesn't mean you can pop them in the city limits."

Be aware that Lawton Police will be out in force Wednesday, with double the man power, watching out for your safety both with fireworks, and drinking.

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