Despite repeated warnings that included phone calls, emails and Facebook messages reminding residents that fireworks were illegal, St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies still found plenty of violators.
During the New Year’s holiday, deputies issued 113 citations and confiscated $10,000 worth of fireworks. The vast majority of the citations were handed out between 10:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. on New Year’s Eve, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
"It is disheartening that so many chose to participate in this illegal activity, especially after the extensive publicity reminding residents that the sale, possession and use of fireworks was illegal in St. Charles Parish," Sheriff Greg Champagne said. "The Sheriff’s Office does not make the laws, but it is our responsibility to enforce them."
In March, the St. Charles Parish Council shot down a law to legalize fireworks in a 5-4 vote. The ordinance would have allowed the popping of fireworks for a few days a year during limited hours.
The current fireworks ban has proven difficult to enforce because deputies are usually called to deal with more important crimes during the New Year’s Eve weekend. Deputies must also catch someone in the act of shooting fireworks because most of the noise complaints the Sheriff’s Office receives come from anonymous callers.
However, Champagne said it is clear that the council and Parish President V.J. St. Pierre expect the law to be enforced.
"Twice in the last two years the council considered and rejected a repeal of the fireworks ban," Champagne said. "In fact, practically no one appeared to support the appeal."
This year, the Sheriff’s Office used a special task force in order to help enforce the law. Violating the fireworks law can mean up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $100, Champagne said.
While more than 100 people were cited for fireworks, a couple was also arrested after authorities say John McFadden, 41, of 573 Cypress Drive in Luling, fired an AR-15 rifle in the backyard of his home on New Year’s Eve.
McFadden’s wife, Amy, was also arrested because deputies say she hindered their investigation by not telling officers where her husband was after they arrived at the home. McFadden was later located inside his house.
J. McFadden was charged with illegal use of weapons and resisting an officer. A. McFadden was booked with accessory to the illegal use of a weapon and resisting an officer.
Both were released from jail after posting bond on Jan. 1.
|Fireworks seized by the St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office.|