LETTERS TO THE EDITOR - Fireworks editorial missed key issues

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In response to: Our Opinion, "It's time to rethink city's ban on most fireworks."

Your Our Opinion editorial on the city's fireworks ban neglected to mention a few key issues. By doing so, you don't paint an accurate picture of the problem.

If law enforcement officers don't witness the fireworks violation, they can't cite for it. Only the dumbest criminal will light illegal fireworks while a police officer is present, not unlike committing any other crime. Normally, they run off when they see us, or get lost in the crowd.

As much as we would all like to believe it, there simply aren't enough law enforcement officers to have a cop hiding behind every tree, waiting for the next illegal launch. That's absurd, especially on a very busy night like the Fourth of July.

And if we are lucky enough to locate a suspect, Criminal Law 101 tells us: To charge someone with a crime, you must have probable cause. To have probable cause, you have to show the suspect had intent to commit a crime.

If the suspect states he thought the fireworks were legal because he bought them at the fairgrounds or next to The New York Store, it is going to be difficult to prove to a jury he possessed the element of intent to commit the crime. Could they be lying to us, as you alluded to in your editorial? Certainly!

But it's not what you believe, it's what you can prove. I mention these two locations because they are both unincorporated "islands" surrounded by the city. It would be much easier for us to enforce this ordinance if violators had to drive 100 miles to get illegal fireworks, rather than walk across the street or take the bus across town.

For you to say we weren't "enforcing the law" is simply not true and, in my humble opinion, disappointing journalism from our local paper. Gazing across the sky that night, maybe you couldn't tell we were making a difference, but we were.

Many of the contacts we made were successful in stopping the fireworks at those locations. Whether you accept it or not, that is enforcement.

Tim Bennett
Walla Walla

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