A year ago I wrote a blog about my 4th of July holiday in Seaside. In the blog I pointed out the fact that police were advertising zero tolerance for illegal fireworks, then turning a blind eye to sky rockets being launched along the crowded beach. I was floored by the blatant lack of enforcement, as well as the obvious waste of money spent on posters and radio spots warning would-be offenders.
A few days ago, I was talking to my friend, Sonya, about the number of buffoons who seem to have no qualms about igniting incendiary devices around kids, dogs, homes, or anything else which happens to be around. The conversation inspired me to look up some numbers.
As you'll see from the Oregon State Police's table, over the last 5 years the number of reported illegal incidents has decreased while the number of injuries and monetary value of damaged property has gone up. One would be tempted to explain the increase in fiscal losses by writing them off to inflation and the bad economy. Yet, while property damage due to fireworks rose 48.3% between July of 2006 & July of 2010, the rate of inflation only rose 7.13% over the same period.
If I had to explain the numbers, I'd theorize that fewer people are, in fact, breaking the law, but the ones who are, are doing so around larger crowds. Thus, the gross number of idiots breaking the law has decreased, but the idiots who still are breaking the law are doing significantly more damage.
I'll be celebrating the founding of our nation, at Portland's waterfront this year. If for no other reason than to keep the thick smoke from torturing my eyes, I hope Portland's police do a better job enforcing a real zero tolerance policy than Seaside's police did last year.