Created: July 06, 2020 05:11 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.— AFR and APD said they were definitely busier than usual on the 4th of July this year. Despite the increase in calls, nobody is paying for breaking the rules.
A team of two dozen AFR and APD officers made up an illegal fireworks response team. AFR said those teams went to 94 locations and handed out 55 cease and deists orders on the 4th of July instead of handing out citations.
“That's what are main goal was, is to hand out those cease and desist orders—educates them on what is legal and illegal,” said AFR Deputy Chief Gene Gallegos during a press conference.
A database tracked the households that received cease and desist orders. Those that were caught again could be cited by AFR.
"These are hard times right now, especially with COVID going on. To slap them with a $500 fine or up 90 days in jail–that's not what the city is about,” Gallegos said.
This year, the city also kept the 311 call center opened.
In previous years, the call center was closed on the 4th of July, leading to frustrated residents having difficult reporting illegal fireworks.
Brian Osterloh, who oversees 311, said they received two and half as many reports compared to last year. Half of the reports were reported online.
With no widespread fires on the bosque or in the foothills, AFR said the city did its part.
"We were able to handle the citizens' concerns appropriately,” said AFR spokesman Tom Ruiz.
Officials said they received 65 calls related to outside fires, 11 structure fires and 1 car fire this year. In 2019, there were 52 outside fires and 2 structure fires. They also confiscated a pile of fireworks which will go to the bomb squad for proper disposal.
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