Salinas, Calif. - The Fourth of July weekend is over, but illegal fireworks are still sparking a major concern for police across the Central Coast.
While Salinas police said they issued more citations than ever before, they said it's difficult to keep up with all of the people setting off illegal fireworks. It's a big problem they're tackling well after the holiday and taxpayers are footing the bill.
Illegal fireworks are easy to spot and hear, but tracking down those setting off the illegal fireworks is harder than some people might think.
"It's a very difficult type of ordinance to enforce," said Commander Sheldon Bryan with the Salinas Police Department. "The officers actually have to physically witness it or have a citizen sign a citizen arrest form and assist us with the prosecution."
The reality is that doesn't happen in most cases - plus there are constitutional protections that restrict police from being able to access certain areas, like someone's backyard. Still, Salinas police were able to issue nine citations related to illegal fireworks on the 4th of July.
Many departments on the Central Coast added more officers on the streets over the last couple of weeks.
"These folks who are setting off illegal fireworks are costing taxpayers money by forcing us to have to do special operations," Commander Bryan said.
Even though Salinas received 220 calls for service, Commander Bryan called the nine citations a win, considering there are years they didn't issue any.
"In one case, we have over six pounds confiscated. In another case, we have over 25 and that includes the 1,800 pounds confiscated on June 14th," he said.
Watsonville police issued 30 citations. Santa Cruz issued 64. Other cities -- such as Monterey -- didn't issue any.
"Those nine citations of $1,250 I hope sets an example for the rest of the citizens to say, 'Maybe I should rethink setting these off,'" said Commander Bryan.
This year, Salinas police were able to devote more resources to undercover patrols. Even though the holiday passed, the department is continuing with this special coverage dedicated to cracking down on illegal fireworks.