Dubuque police kept busy with fireworks calls in first week of July

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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) -- The Fourth of July period for buying and shooting off fireworks in Iowa has ended and the Dubuque Police Department hopes to see a sharp cut in the calls about fireworks usage after a busy first week in July.

While it's now legal to buy and sell fireworks in Iowa, the city of Dubuque has banned the use.

According to Lieutenant Joe Messerich, officers received 224 fireworks calls for service between July 1 and July 8. So far in all of 2019, officers have received a total of 337.

This is a drastic increase compared to before the state of Iowa legalized the sale of fireworks. Between 2012 and 2016, Messerich says the department averaged about 180 calls in an entire year.

He doesn't think people are lighting fireworks because they don't understand the laws in Dubuque.

"I don't think it's confusion. You know we put out our public service announcements to remind citizens and you know we've done plenty of stories on it, but I just think it's a disregard to the law," Messerich said. "It's a lot easier to get fireworks these days, it's a lot more readily available obviously now that they're legal in Iowa to buy."

Messerich says officers use discretion when responding to these calls.

"Sometimes we give warnings, sometimes they give fines, you know obviously we do charge people, especially those that are uncooperative with us," he said.

Messerich says officers will also prioritize more urgent calls.