Testimony heats up over bill to bust fireworks offenders with photos, video

A proposal aims to crack down on lawbreakers using illegal fireworks by making it easier for police to arrest them.

House Bill 1172 would change state law to allow police to bust someone based on a photograph, video recording, and eyewitness statements.

At a hearing Thursday, residents told lawmakers they support the proposal, because they’re tired of living in what seems like a war zone during the holidays.

One resident told us she called police after witnessing and recording neighbors setting off fireworks, but says she gets the same response: nothing can be done unless the officer saw it.

The city prosecutor’s office disagrees, saying current firework laws don’t require an officer to witness the crime. Their concern surrounds the narrow definition of aerial firework — once it’s blown up, it’s hard to prove what kind of explosive it was.

Rep. Sharon Har, who introduced the bill, says it isn’t realistic for an officer to only be able to make an arrest after seeing someone light a firework.

“I respect the attorney’s office, but unfortunately, there is a disconnect between the attorney’s office and HPD,” she said.

Har says lawmakers will look at changing the language of the bill to better define an aerial firework, if that’s what is needed.

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