Iowa City fireworks complaints: a lot of noise, but little else

Fireworks over the Old Capitol. — photo by Adrianne Behning via Flickr

On Wednesday, Iowa City announced the city police department received 406 complaints about fireworks between June 1 and July 5, a massive increase from the 32 complaint calls the department logged during the same period last year.

“I don’t think anyone was anticipating that volume of calls,” Iowa City Sgt. Scott Gaarde said, in a phone interview.

Fireworks are for sale in Iowa City, because under a state law adopted in May, the city can’t ban their sale between June 1 and July 8. But the use of fireworks within city limits is still banned, and anyone cited for violating the ban faces fines from $250 to $650.

So how many citations were issued as a result of those 406 complaints?

“Zero. No citations were issued,” Gaarde said. “Our focus has been on education. A lot of people are confused about the differences between state and city law. Our goal is to make sure everyone understands what the laws are.”

The emphasis may shift from education to enforcement in the future, if there are no changes to either state or city law. But enforcement of the ban on using fireworks may prove difficult. In order to issue a citation, an officer has to witness a person setting off the firework.