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Brazil police chief happy with new fireworks law

Monday, July 17, 2006

(Photo)
By ANDY MCCAMMON

tamccammon1@yahoo.com

A lenient new law regulating the use of fireworks has riled officials in some Indiana towns, but according to Brazil's police chief, it's a change for the better.

Chief Mark Loudermilk said the newly-relaxed law prompted a decrease in fireworks-related police calls this summer, saving time and money for his department.

In past years, he said, "(The department) would have fireworks calls all day and night, all of June and July."

But the law, which permits Hoosiers over 18 to discharge fireworks on their own property between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m., has caused concern among officials in Fort Wayne, where city council members are debating ways to convince legislators to review the law during the next legislative session.

Loudermilk believes the law is working. He said Brazil police have only issued a handful of fireworks-related citations so far this year: a few incidents involving fireworks discharged over residences-- a fire hazard-- and several would-be smugglers attempting to sneak them into Forest Park on the Fourth of July.

Aside from that, he said fireworks haven't caused many significant problems since the law took effect July 1.

"We've had a lot more fireworks being shot off, but with the law being specific about times and ages, there's nothing out of hand," he said. "At least now if they meet the new (age and time restrictions), they're not committing a violation and we don't have to respond to those calls."

Loudermilk noted that a local law narrows the window of time within which fireworks can be legally discharged by an hour. After 10 p.m., shooting fireworks within city limits can be treated as a violation of a noise ordinance.

"If they're shooting them off after hours, we can ticket them," he said. "And we do."

The law has proven effective in Loudermilk's estimation, but according to state officials, opponents of the measure will likely win out.

Gov. Mitch Daniels has said he would support a retooling of the law, and State Rep. Randy Borror, R-Fort Wayne, said he is confident certain concerns will be addressed in an upcoming session.

"I'm sure tweaking will take place," Borror said.

The state Senate defeated an amendment this year that would have allowed municipalities to ban fireworks.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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