PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Fireworks complaints have become an major issue in Rhode Island, and local police departments tell Eyewitness News that, despite arrests being down this holiday weekend, complaints continue to go up.
Eyewitness News reached out to more than a dozen police departments across the state for information regarding fireworks arrests and complaints from Fourth of July weekend.
Woonsocket Police Captain Jon Picard said 11 people were arrested this weekend in the city for fireworks use, which is in addition to a handful or so from late last week.
Picard also said that the police department received 140 fireworks complaints, which is a huge spike compared to last year on the same weekend when they only received 14 complaints.
Police in West Warwick also made an arrest for fireworks use over the weekend. West Warwick Police Sgt. John Gardiner said they were called to the home of resident David Beuchaine several times throughout the week after receiving fireworks complaints prior to his arrest.
Gardiner said they received 58 complaints just this holiday weekend, while Westerly Police Captain Shawn Lacey reported more than 200 complaints. Lacey said no arrests were made in Westerly.
The Cranston Police Department recently stepped up patrols to crack down on illegal fireworks, but also made no arrests. In all, they tell Eyewitness News they received 1,058 complaints.
Eyewitness News also reached out to the Providence Police Department, which recently created a Fireworks Task Force.
The group, organized by the Providence Police and Fire Departments along with the R.I. State Fire Marshal’s Office, was made to reduce the number of fireworks used in the city in recent weeks. Eyewitness News has not yet heard back on whether there were any arrests or the number of fireworks complaints over the weekend.
The following police departments also told Eyewitness News that no arrests were made for fireworks use over the weekend in their communities, but said the majority said they were inundated with complaints:
- Barrington Police Department
- Bristol Police Department
- Coventry Police Department
- East Greenwich Police Department
- East Providence Police Department
- Johnston Police Department
- North Kingstown Police Department
- North Providence Police Department
- Pawtucket Police Department
- Scituate Police Department
- South Kingstown Police Department
- Warwick Police Department
In Rhode Island, only ground-based fireworks and handheld sparklers are legal, but with the cancellation of many fireworks displays and other celebrations due to the pandemic, illegal fireworks are becoming more accessible to the public.