SCV avoids major incident for Fourth; deputies employ proactive approach

SCV deputies received hundreds of tips from residents through an app that helped them find countless illegal fireworks.
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Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station officials thanked residents for their support in reporting illegal fireworks through their new social media app.

Deputies received more than 500 submissions from SCV residents who were looking to be proactive about preventing illegal fireworks in their neighborhoods, according to Shirley Miller, spokeswoman for the SCV Sheriff’s Station, which was in addition to numerous social media posts discouraging the usage of fireworks and encouraging lost pet-support groups. 

“The Fourth of July is one of the busiest days of the year at our Sheriff’s Station,” Miller said. “In addition to the over 290,000 (SCV) residents we serve, there was an additional 20,000 who came to the area for the Six Flags (Magic Mountain) festivities and the fireworks show at the mall.”

This photo shows a sliver of the more than 500 reports of illegal fireworks shared with deputies by SCV residents, using a new app. Courtesy of SCV Sheriff’s Station.

While deputies only ended up handing out two citations for fireworks, Miller said the app allowed Crime Prevention Unit deputies to proactively visit hundreds of homes before the first fireworks were even set off yesterday. 

“They conducted pre-emptive checks with the (reported) addresses and the homeowners,” Miller said, adding that deputies split up the reports by address and area, which is the basis for how the CPU deputies normally operate. (The unit divides the SCV into crime prevention “zones,” with a specific deputy assigned to oversee reports from each of the SCV’s areas.)

While the number of actual citations might seem low considering most might have heard at least one or two fireworks go off Thursday that weren’t associated with the two legal shows scheduled for the SCV on the Fourth of July (one at the Westfield Valencia Town Center and the other at Magic Mountain), one of the legal obstacles facing deputies is that they have to see the fireworks being set off in order to issue a citation, Miller said. While someone sending a picture or a video of illegal fireworks being set off might be useful for a later prosecution, deputies investigating an on-scene report wouldn’t be able to use that to make an arrest.

That is not to say deputies didn’t make any arrests: Six individuals were arrest on domestic violence-related charges, three on narcotics charges, two on suspicion of robbery, one on suspicion of burglary, one on suspicion of grand theft, one on suspicion of child abuse and three who had outstanding warrants, according to Miller. 

“And on a positive note, we were very pleased to see that deputies made no arrests for DUI,” she said, thanking residents who celebrated the Fourth safely and responsibly. 

And at the end of the day, the proactive efforts resulted in more than just a number of supportive posts — Los Angeles County Fire Department officials for Battalions 6 and 22, which serve the SCV, reported no significant incidents related to fireworks between the hours of 4 p.m. Thursday and 5 a.m. Friday morning — just a couple of very minor “spot fires,” according to Inspector Sky Cornell of the Fire Department. 

“We’re glad to see that people are looking out for one another,” Miller said, “because that’s how you build a strong community.”

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