D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier‘s community-policing offensive apparently went on holiday around Independence Day. Residents across the city flooded the department with complaints about illegal fireworks popping off around them. According to 4th District Commander Hilton B. Burton, officers in his area responded to as many as 25 calls an hour starting around sundown on the Fourth and stretching into the wee hours of the next day. But Burton’s foot soldiers made no arrests.
“Generally, we don’t arrest people for shooting off firecrackers on the Fourth of July,” says Burton.
Petworth resident Keith Jarrell didn’t see any cruisers on his block. “In all honesty, there is just no way 25 calls per hour were responded to. I just don’t believe it,” says Jarrell, who said he dialed police three times between July 2 and 4.
Officials did make an effort, however, to crack down on illegal sales. A federal/local task force made 14 arrests citywide for possession or distribution of “quarter sticks,” “M80s,” bottle rockets, and other illegal exploding devices and projectiles. In all, officials seized fireworks with a street value of as much as $100,000, says D.C. Fire Department spokesman Tony Dorsey.