With a new ordinance in place for the Fourth of July holiday bringing stiff fines to those that use illegal fireworks, it also included a new hotline staffed by City of Riverbank personnel. The phone lines were managed at City Hall North from 7 p.m. until 11 p.m. from Thursday, July 4 through Saturday, July 6.
Although the city staff does not have much, if any experience dispatching, they did the best they could according to Administration Analyst Norma Torres-Manriquez. She explained that there was also extra police staff including two officers and the Riverbank Police Services Chief Erin Kiely that assisted with the calls. There were six city staff members that manned the hotline as well as drove around town to report illegal fireworks.
“Overall it went well,” said Torres-Manriquez. “We tried to be as responsive as we could. There were also more calls that were called into the non-emergency dispatch line but we don’t have a total number of those.”
Between the hours of 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. on the Fourth of July the hotline received approximately 60 calls. There were only two calls that were received on the fifth and no calls to the new hotline on either July 6 or July 7.
Torres-Manriquez expressed that the Fourth was a very busy night and often, multiple calls came in at the same time. The officers tried to respond to each call; however, by the time the deputy arrived there was nothing to be found on a few of the calls. They received reports of the general area of the illegal fireworks which was challenging for deputies to locate the exact locations.
“All but one caller that called the hotline were so appreciative of the efforts being made to assist,” stated Torres-Manriquez. “As a staff we are all very appreciative of the people that took time out of their holiday to call and help us make our City a safer one.”
She added that there were a total of 19 citations mailed out that were all verified illegal fireworks by city staff or deputies.
“I should share that we did notice on Facebook that some people thought we would only be issuing warnings but that is not the case,” said Torres-Manriquez. “The Fire Marshal did report that there was one fire in the River Cove area as a result of illegal bottle rockets.”