Kansas City police get 450 calls for service for fireworks on Fourth of July

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Fireworks are illegal to sell, possess and set off in the Kansas City limits. But from 9:30 a.m. on Independence Day to 9:30 a.m. Friday morning, the Kansas City Police Department received 450 calls for service regarding fireworks.

Officers said that's about the average amount of fireworks calls they receive on the holiday. Fireworks are only allowed as part of shows, approved by the city with permits.

"We wish people would make the right decision and go to a fireworks display put on professionally or some other event like that, rather than in their homes or in their neighborhoods," Sgt. Jake Becchina with the Kansas City Police Department said.

Once police get those calls, they respond based on availability. Becchina said officers usually make it out in four hours, and are given a group of addresses to check out.

"It is illegal, although it's really hard for us to enforce that because a lot of times by the time we get there, it has stopped," Sgt. Becchina said. "It's pretty rare to see actual enforcement. Officers can recover those fireworks and basically seize them, and take them for safe disposal if the address is a problem and we've been called there several times and there have been several reports."

But Becchina said it's not a free pass.

On Independence Day, the Kansas City Fire Department responded to three structure fires caused by fireworks. Two firefighters were injured.

"If officers do see someone setting off fireworks or lighting fireworks within the city limits, they can be issued a citation," Becchina said. "The fine for that would be determined in city court by a judge. But there can be some pretty stiff fines associated with that, and that's assuming no one gets injured, no property is damaged associated with that.

"Now you're talking about a situation where some much more significant penalties could be at play here if someone is responsible for illegal fireworks use for setting a fire, someone, a firefighter or otherwise is injured, then they could be some really serious criminal charges, even felony charges."

On the Fourth of July, KCPD got more than 120 calls for shots fired, but those all turned out to be fireworks.

"Looking preliminary at our shot spotter numbers and shot spotter coverage area, we found 45 shots fired gunfire alerts, so 45 different instances there," Becchina said. "That's our gunfire detection system that alerts us to gunfire. One of those alerts in particular, there were over 40 rounds fired in that one alert."

Becchina said those rounds may have been celebratory gunfire, which is also illegal, but it's hard to tell.

"It's hard to say for sure because the system doesn't tell us what direction or anything like that the rounds are going," Becchina said. "It's hard to say for sure. One would assume that that's what it would be because we have an increased instance of celebratory gunfire on Fourth of July."

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