Johnson City community, police work together to curb 4th of July fireworks chaos


JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – For years, a Johnson City neighborhood was the target of an overload of illegal fireworks during the 4th of July weekend, with property getting damaged during the pyrotechnics.

After years of being inundated by illegal fireworks this time of year, Johnson City police and West Davis Park community members worked together to curb the chaos and to prevent the “fireworks wars,” as residents have referred to it in the past.

During a community meeting last Tuesday, Johnson City Police Chief Karl Turner said the neighborhood in question could house a lot of pets and veterans who do not cope well with loud noises, and that fireworks pose a great risk to any neighborhood.

“Our main goal is not to have any injuries to anyone and any property damage, and you know you’re greatly increasing that risk with fireworks in a neighborhood like that,” Chief Turner said. “We’re trying to do everything we can to be proactive on the front end and try to reduce that number of people that are up there shooting fireworks, or eliminate it completely would be the ultimate goal, but have to be realistic as well.”

In 2018, News Channel 11 received viewer-submitted footage showing individuals running through the streets in the West Davis neighborhood launching fireworks at people and police cars. One resident said his truck was destroyed and his home was damaged that night.

Now in 2021, residents of the West Davis Park neighborhood say the efforts of working together with the police have paid off.

“In the past years, it sounded like a war zone. The difference this year is it was intermittent fireworks here and there, you didn’t hear a barrage of fireworks sounding like there was a firework war going on, so that was a big difference this year,” Barry Drummond, a West Davis Park resident, said.

Drummond explained that the Johnson City police patrolled the neighborhood over the weekend.

“The police chief provided extra police services in the area, police officers on foot, and I counted two groups of police officers probably like eight to 10 per group on two different days, which was Friday and Saturday,” he said.

Drummond added that he thought the foot patrols contributed to the lack of battlefield noises around his community.

“The times they were out here, I mean, it was quiet you hardly heard anything if you did, it was few and far between,” he said. “And then after midnight, when we usually get the wars going on, it wasn’t like that at all this year, I mean, you had intermittent fireworks like somebody’s running out of their house lighting something off and then running back in, but you didn’t have like the constant fireworks going off all over the community.”

After a collaborative effort from the community and the police, Drummond said next year will be even bigger to help keep the pyrotechnical display at bay.

“I can say that next year we’re going high tech. Well, there’ll be an eye in the sky, several of them. That’ll be flying around so yep, we’re going to be watching, and that’s night and day,” he said.

But in the end, he said it was a good holiday weekend.

“It was a great Fourth of July, I mean, we had a barbecue in the back of my house with a bunch of neighbors and, you know, it was just nice and quiet and peaceful, so it worked,” Drummond said.

Johnson City police told News Channel 11 there were average to below-average firework activity Friday and Saturday nights but said there was an increase in activity Sunday night.

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