MIPD responds to 22 fireworks complaints on July 4

July 4 was a busy day for the Mercer Island Police Department (MIPD).

Throughout Independence Day, officers responded to 64 calls for service, including 22 fireworks complaints during an Island-wide discharge ban, according to Public Information Officer Lindsey Tusing on the morning of July 5. Last year, MIPD received 24 fireworks complaints when fireworks were allowed to be set off locally.

Consumer fireworks could still be sold legally on the Island this year from noon to 9 p.m. on June 28 and from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. June 29 through July 4. According to a TNT Fireworks representative and the company’s website, a retail stand was open starting June 28 at 3023 78th Ave. SE.

“On roughly half the fireworks calls this year, we contacted the individuals and provided a warning, educating them on the law. On the other half of complaints, we couldn’t observe any unlawful fireworks discharge or we only heard them somewhere in the distance,” said Tusing, adding that she expects the number of fireworks complaints to decrease next year when the sale and discharge of consumer fireworks will be permanently banned on Mercer Island following a city council unanimous adoption at its May 7 meeting.

“This year, we prioritized educating the public above penalizing,” Tusing noted.

On May 1, a Reporter article stated that Eastside Fire & Rescue Chief Ben Lane and City Manager Jessi Bon signed an order prohibiting the discharge of consumer fireworks “due to extreme fire danger,” according to the city regarding the out-of-service Seattle Public Utilities main water supply pipeline to the Island and the risk of further water supply diminishment.

In other response activity on July 4, officers doused a small brush fire with an extinguisher before the fire department arrived on the scene, according to Tusing, who added that the fire was of unknown cause and crews found no evidence that it was fireworks related.

MIPD also responded to three disturbances, in which officers primarily assisted with individuals experiencing mental health crisis, Tusing noted.

Over the holiday weekend, MIPD’s Marine Patrol unit will again be participating in Operation Dry Water 2024. Each year, the department engages in the campaign, which focuses on keeping boaters safe, enforcing Washington boating laws and raising awareness about the dangers of boating under the influence.

“Alcohol is the leading contributing factor to fatal boating accidents,” reads a department social media post, which adds that its unit will be patrolling Lake Washington conducting sober boating emphasis.

The department offered the following reminders to boaters and their passengers: Never boat while impaired — impaired boating is impaired driving; wear a lifejacket; and stay safe and have fun.

No incidents were reported on the water on July 4 (or as of the Reporter’s press time on July 8), Tusing said.

“When we don’t contact any drunk boaters, we consider that a good indication that our education efforts year-round and our visible presence on the lake are working to prevent accidents and injury on the water,” she added.

MIPD was also flooded with calls for service on July 5 with 52, including a few fireworks complaints, disturbances and a vehicle theft.