East Lansing city officials are hoping to spread awareness of the new fireworks ban before it goes into effect Wednesday.
The council passed the ordinance in response to numerous complaints by residents about the noise level. East Lansing police say they are concerned about how to enforce the ordinance, and might take additional steps to crack down on use if it continues to be a problem.
City council and the East Lansing Police Department, or ELPD, admitted the only problem with the ordinance, which goes into effect Oct. 10, is trying to enforce it. The maximum penalty for violating the ordinance is a $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail.
“We will rely heavily on education and communication efforts to pass the word that the (fireworks) law may be legal, but not in East Lansing except for the day of a national holiday and the day before and after,” said East Lansing City Councilmember Kevin Beard.
Under state law, local government cannot ban fireworks use the day before, on or after a national holiday.
Capt. Jeff Murphy of the ELPD hopes people will hear about the new ordinance before it goes into effect.
“Hopefully when people find out that there is a new ordinance and it is illegal, that will be a deterrent in itself and get rid of a large part of the problem,” Murphy said.
Secondary education junior Mary Burson said she likes the idea behind the ordinance, but does not think it will make a difference.
“I don’t really think there’s a difference because there’s always going to be that one person out there that’s going to be doing fireworks when it’s not supposed to be happening,” Burson said.
Murphy acknowledged police will have to take additional steps to enforce the law if citizens continue to break the law — including deploying officers on foot and opening police investigations.
“If it’s going to take officers getting out on foot or on a bike, you know, it is a misdemeanor,” Murphy said. “Also, officers can do an investigation with witnesses if people are willing to give names of their neighbors who they witnessed lighting off fireworks, then we could get a further arrest instead of just a citation right at the time.”
The ELPD and city council are trying to get the message out to citizens before the law goes into effect Wednesday.
Beard said he thinks that everyone has the right to peace and quiet, and without this ordinance, citizens will be forced to continue to be bothered with noisy fireworks.
“We’re all entitled to a quiet enjoyment of our property, and fireworks going off at 2:30 in the morning in your neighborhood doesn’t allow that,” Beard said.