CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Corpus Christi Police Department would like to do a better job enforcing the city's ordinance that bans setting off of fireworks within the city limits on New Year's Eve, but defends the number of citations issued this year.
"Could we do better than five?" Deputy Chief Billy Breedlove said about the number of citations. "I'd like to think so. But we will continue to try to make improvements next year when we go out after those violations."
Video KRIS 6 obtained shows dozens of fireworks being launched in neighborhoods around midnight Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. Breedlove said there are several reasons only five people were ticketed.
"To actually catch someone and stop them because they were shooting fireworks is a little difficult," Breedlove said. "That's the challenge."
The city's fireworks ordinance changed in 2013 when the Texas Legislature passed a law limiting the scope of such ordinances. In order to cite someone, Breedlove said an officer must catch them actually lighting a firework, or carrying fireworks that have been removed from their packaging.
Breedlove said the other reason for the small number of citations is the vast number of calls for service the police department receives on New Year's Eve.
He said that call volume is triple the size of a normal Tuesday night. Officers have to prioritize the calls they answer, and fireworks are not at the top of the list.
"It's all about life and safety first, then followed by property," he said. "So we've got to respond to those disturbances: fights, DWI drivers."
Among those most bothered by fireworks were pet owners. Dog owner Raquel Stenberg called the noise and flashes of light throughout the city that night "loud" and "obnoxious."
"My dog was shaking," she said. "She got so scared."
The police department received 386 calls related to fireworks on New Year's Eve, though Stenberg and resident and dog owner Justin Rosas said they didn't call the police that night.
"I know CCPD is doing lots of patrols, and I think they're doing a lot," Rosas said. "But I'm not sure what more can be done about it other than more police on the street."