Albert Lea police say fireworks complaints up in last two years

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 1, 2003

You may have heard them at night: Pops, bangs and other miniature explosions banned by Minnesota law. But they seem to be on the rise, so to speak, in Albert Lea.

According to figures from the Albert Lea Police Department from 2001, before the state legislature legalized non-explosive, non-aerial fireworks, the Albert Lea police Department got 34 calls about fireworks. In 2002, after the legislation passed, the number rose to 86, and there have been about 60 calls so far this year. But it’s still three days away from Fourth of July weekend.

Albert Lea Assistant Police Chief Dwaine Winkels attributes the increase in nuisance calls to the legalization of smaller, quieter fireworks like snakes, sparklers and fountains. He said the legalization opened the door in many people’s minds to the loud explosive and illegal fireworks available in nearby states. With the major fireworks holiday days away, the calls may increase. But Winkels expects them to taper off shortly afterward.

Email newsletter signup

He said usually police only give warnings. There’s difficulty prosecuting the offenders, because often by the time the police arrive the fireworks have stopped. They need witnesses to testify or for the offenders to admit to it.

He said police actively respond to all fireworks calls, but it’s difficult enforcing laws frequently ignored by the general populace. &uot;We enforce community standards,&uot; he said.

An Albert Lea Medical Center spokesperson said that they haven’t had any fireworks-related injuries this year.

Albert Lea resident Jeremy Corey-Gruenes lives on Grace Street, an area where police have recieved complaints. He said it makes him feels old to get annoyed by the fireworks that have been going five nights strong this week &045; mostly bottlerockets. But he said there seem to be more around this year’s fourth of July. He doesn’t plan on calling the police though, saying it will end soon enough.