Richmond police chief provides update on illegal July 4 fireworks use


It was “business as usual” when it came to illegal fireworks in Richmond on July 4, according to Mayor Tom Butt, although Police Chief Allwyn Brown says the problem appears to have improved over past years.

In his e-forum newsletter today, Butt joined an echo among residents noting a lot of illegal fireworks use on Independence Day in the city, with the constantly loud noises frightening dogs and keeping the police busy.

“From my home on the hill in Point Richmond, I can see and hear it all,” he said. “I got the usual frantic complaints, and social media was burning up on the subject. Some recommended skipping the sanctioned fireworks shows sponsored by various municipalities, climb to a high point like Nichol Knob, and enjoy a bigger, better (and certainly longer) show from the streets and backyards of Richmond.”

The mayor said the city’s fireworks ordinance “gets about the same respect as he 55 mile per hours speed limit on highways.”

Butt shared a note from police Chief Allwyn Brown about the illegal fireworks, including about an operation that added additional officers to the streets who used Shotspotter and calls-for-service data to monitor hotspots. Over 50 officers, sergeants and lieutenants patrolled  micro-beats and seized hundreds of pounds of fireworks, arrested an arsonist, and broke up a sideshow involving over a hundred cars before it got started, according to police Capt. Al Walle, who headed up the operation.

It follows:

“I get the frustration many endure related to deviant ID4 celebrations in Richmond.  They have escalated over the years – and it’s a trend that we’d like to slow down and hopefully reverse.
We took a comprehensive approach this year, starting with public education and outreach. We teamed with others and brought in extra officers strategically placed in neighborhoods where our records show have experienced the highest levels of fireworks activity and celebratory gunfire over the last 5 years. 
We still have to study the results of our efforts, but based on preliminary feedback, our efforts yielded promising results.  I have learned from public feedback of individual neighborhoods how they feel things where compared to last year.
Police seized caches of illegal fireworks all over town, arrested an arsonist, broke up a sideshow involving 100 cars, and averted a riot of about 200 people near 5th Street (where a large cache of fireworks was confiscated).  
We’ll continue to step it up every year in the hope of reversing an unwanted trend.  
Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
Chief Brown


  1. The area delineated by Marina Way, Barrett, Roosevelt and Harbour Way has sounded like a war zone for two months, and got worse on the third and fourth. There were bombs shaking windows and setting off car alarms until 4AM. I don’t know where the improvement took place, but it wasn’t where I live.


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