Authorities ready for New Year’s

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, January 2, 2002

County law enforcement officials are planning some routine NewYear’s holiday activities while Brookhaven authorities areemphasizing their plans to enforce fireworks prohibition lawsinside the city.

Officials in both departments would like this weekend to be arepeat of last weekend.

“I hope New Year’s is just as quiet as Christmas was,” saidLincoln County Sheriff Lynn Boyte.

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Brookhaven Police Chief Arlustra “Pap” Henderson said hisdepartment had only three complaint calls about fireworks duringthe Christmas week.

“We’ve never had a Christmas like this as far as the citizensrespecting what I said about no fireworks,” Henderson said.

In the past, Henderson said July 4 and the Christmas holidays,including New Year’s, have been the worst as far as fireworks.Within the latter period, New Year’s fireworks complaints wereworse.

“We’d have 15-20 calls during one shift,” the chief said.

While the department has been tolerant in the past, Hendersonsaid complaints have gotten out of hand. He warned that rules willbe enforced this year.

“If they are caught shooting fireworks in the city, they will beprosecuted, whether it’s a juvenile or parents buying fireworks forthem,” Henderson said.

For parents, Henderson said they may be charged withcontributing to the delinquency of a minor. That carries a $399fine in city court.

Children could be taken to youth court, the chief said.

Adults arrested for shooting fireworks could be charged withdisturbing the public peace. That has a $269 fine in the citycourt.

Despite the prohibition, city residents can see fireworks thisyear.

The Juvenile Rehabilitation Facility, located just outside thecity on Brookman Drive Extension, is putting on a fireworks showMonday at 7 p.m. in the facility’s parking lot. The fireworks arebeing donated by JRF Friends Organization.

“If the people want to see fireworks, I’d tell them to go outthere,” Henderson said.

For safety reasons, Boyte said a deputy will be present for thefireworks show, but he was not anticipating any problems.

Otherwise, the sheriff said routine roadblocks will be set upthroughout the holiday weekend.

“They’ll be in several areas of the county,” Boyte said. “Theywon’t be too long in one place. They’ll move around.”

The Mississippi Highway Patrol also plans to set up roadblocksand beef up patrol in the area.

“We will have all available man power working,” Lt. CharlesBrill said. “People tend to be more cautious when they see usout.”

Brill said the department will be specifically watching out formotorists driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlledsubstance.

He advises motorists to call MHP on their cellular phones, using*47, if they encounter an impaired driver.

Boyte remarked on the relative calm that has been present in thearea lately.

So far in December, his department has handled 383 calls,slightly higher than November’s 362 calls. Both totals, though,were lower than the 400-500 monthly calls that are normal for thistime of the year.

Henderson and Boyte hoped for continued calm and a safe andprosperous new year.

“This is what we in the county and city work for every day: tokeep the peace and to let people enjoy life without a whole lot ofproblems,” Boyte said.