SOUTH PORTLAND —

On the first July Fourth since the sale of fireworks became legal in Maine, South Portland police are planning a crackdown on the illegal use of fireworks in the city, including plainclothes patrols.

South Portland, like many communities in the southern half of the state, has banned the use of fireworks, despite the change in state law to allow fireworks sales. That change led to the opening of several fireworks stores in the state, including one in neighboring Scarborough.

South Portland Police Lt. Frank Clark said there’s been a jump in residents’ complaints about fireworks this year.

He said that there were 104 complaints about fireworks from Jan. 1 – when the new state law took effect – until the end of June, with more than half coming in June alone. Monday night, he said, there were about a dozen complaints and, so far, two people have been charged with violating the city’s law on the use of fireworks.

Last year, Clark said, there were only 13 fireworks complaints during the first half of the year.

It’s illegal in South Portland to use, sell, or possess with the intent to sell, fireworks. Fines range from $200 to $1,000.

He said plainclothes officers will be patrolling to try to catch those using fireworks in the act. They will also be the first to respond to complaints if they are nearby, Clark said.

The number of plainclothes officers will depend on what else is going on in the city and it will be up to the discretion of a shift supervisor to send out a plainclothes patrol, Clark said.

Clark said the goal is to reinforce South Portland’s ban on fireworks following the change in state law.

“We’re a fireworks-free zone,” he said.

 

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at: [email protected]