Lompoc PD: 911 lines get tied up over fireworks reported as ‘shots fired’

Posted at 5:18 PM, Jun 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-17 20:18:11-04

More than two weeks ahead of Independence Day, Lompoc police are already receiving a flood of calls reporting illegal fireworks.

"Fireworks have been going off in the middle of the night," said Gary Clark, a Lompoc resident. "It sounds like gun shots, like a war zone. It scares the living crap out of me."

Residents like Clark are tired of the mid -June fireworks explosions, which can be seen nightly from downtown.

"Like at least three or four times an hour," Clark said. 

Clark said he knows of veterans who suffer from PTSD and said the fireworks only intensify their anxiety.

Don Dunson, a resident who lives on the outskirts of town, said he’s sometimes awoken by the fireworks.

"Late night, I’ve heard some around 12 a.m. (sic) or 12:30 (a.m.), laying in my bed," Dunson said.

Other residents expressed concern about animals, which are frightened by the boom and lights and run off.

"People have a hard time waiting until (July 4) when it’s legal to do that and we get a lot of calls coming in," said Lompoc Police Sgt. Kevin Martin.

Martin said calls are constantly flooding into an already strapped dispatch center.

"We actually have two officers filling in at dispatch right now because my numbers are so low on dispatch," Martin said.

Those calls, which are often mistake fireworks for gunshots, are sucking up resources.

Martin said his department won’t have the man power this July 4 to patrol for fireworks like in years past.

"If you know it’s fireworks, please consider how serious that is and not tie up a 911 call for someone who really needs police or fire," Martin said.

Martin advised people with fireworks complaints to report it through the Lompoc police app.

A portion of I Street near the Lompoc Chamber of Commerce will be designated for legal fireworks on July 4. All other displays are illegal and violators face a fine, according to Martin.