JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Johnson City schools and police are stepping up to help a neighborhood stop what they call “fireworks wars.”
It’s a problem that plagues the West Davis Park neighborhood on Independence Day even though fireworks are banned in city limits.
Police Chief Karl Turner said seven people have now been charged from that investigation into “fireworks wars” back on July 4th.
At a meeting Monday night at Carver Recreation Center – residents, Chief Turner and Johnson City Schools Superintendent Dr. Steve Barnett all talked solutions.
“The greatest concern for safety of individuals was in West Davis Park,” Chief Turner said this past July 4 – police responded to multiple neighborhood – but West Davis Park is different,”shooting the fireworks at each other, the other neighborhoods it was mostly shooting fireworks in the air,” Turner said.
That’s why residents are coming together to come up with ways to address the problem.
“It’s a perfect example of community policing,” Turner said.
Action items are now in place to get the job done.
“If you’re aware at night that there are limbs that are blocking the light, we need to get that information to public works,” Becky Haas with the Johnson City Police Department said.
From making sure lights are shining down on the dark streets at night, to increasing the current $50 fine for violating the city ordinance, even putting up more neighborhood watch signs is on the list. The group is also interested in getting a Public Service Announcement out there.
“From some of the films that we looked at, a lot of the people there were juveniles,” Turner said.
Juveniles are part of the problem – which is why the group invited Johnson City Schools.
“I wanted to make sure the school system was represented at this meeting,” Superintendent Barnett said.
He said he’s not aware of any Science Hill High School students being charged for fireworks violations, but he’s taking action.
“What we’re going to try to do is to help the community by educating students before the summer so that they understand we want them to be safe,” Barnett said.
He also told us that School Resource Officers with Johnson City Schools already talk to students about fire and fireworks safety.
Residents in the West Davis Park community are optimistic about the future.
“I expect to hear less fireworks next year than I did this year,” resident, Karla Forney said.
This conversation is far from over, the next West Davis Park community meeting is set for Sept. 24.