CHAMPAIGN — Champaign police have vowed to continue their crackdown on wayward gunfire in the city and are asking the public not to use illegal fireworks as the Fourth of July approaches.
Since May 22, police have investigated 15 gun-related incidents, including shots-fired calls. The department expects an increase in those calls due to fireworks, which can sound just like gunfire.
Therefore, the department is urging the community to avoid the use of illegal fireworks and any explosive devices that sound like gunfire. Residents are urged to report any illegal activity by calling 911 or submitting information to Crimestoppers at 373-8477 or http://www.373tips.com.
Police will try to locate both illegal gunfire and fireworks violations and prosecute anyone who engages in either to help improve public safety during the upcoming holiday.
Police remind that celebratory gunfire can have tragic results.
"The reality is that any bullet discharged from a gun, even into the sky, must land at some location, and the risks are significant for injury or death," according to a release. "The Champaign Police Department is committed to combating gun violence in our community. Ensuring residents' quality of life and the safety and security of each neighborhood is our mission."
Champaign Fire Marshal John Koller reminds folks that "if you have to light the wick of a firework and it either explodes or shoots in the air, it is illegal to use in the city of Champaign."
"Leave the fireworks to certified professionals or go to the Champaign County Freedom Celebration," he said. Details on the fireworks, which begin at 7 p.m. July 4 west of State Farm Center, can be found at july4th.net.
The fine for using illegal fireworks is $185. More information about fireworks can be found online under the city of Champaign's muncipal code.