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By the Numbers: Shaker Police Chief Reveals Facts About Fireworks Celebration

As part of Police Chief D. Scott Lee's presentation at a council work session, he discussed various figures that provided insight into the trouble at the city's fireworks celebration.

At Shaker Heights City Council's work session earlier this week, Police Chief D. Scott Lee revealed several figures about the 2012 Fourth of July fireworks and compared them to previous years.

The city has not worked the celebration into its 2013 budget. The event will be officially cancelled unless a council member makes a motion at the next meeting on Dec. 17 to keep the celebration alive. At the last work session, Councilman Brian Gleisser pledged to come up with alternatives to keep the event going.

Here are some of the numbers Lee presented to council and members of the public:

  • 500 to 700 — An estimate of the amount of people who amassed at the entrance of the auditorium at Shaker Heights Middle School. Though most of these people gathered at the door because of thunder and lightning, fights broke out, and at one point a police sergeant was assaulted, Lee said. In 2011, 800 to 1,000 juveniles were amassed at the western end of the school parking lot. There were reports of shots being fired, and police found a magazine for a .38-caliber gun that year.
  • 300 — The number of people Lee estimates were in some way involved in "riotous" activity. Police began pushing them away from the event and toward Warrensville Center Road. The street was eventually closed, and traffic was detoured. Fights broke out on Warrensville Center Road, near Shaker Boulevard and Boyce, Fayette and South Woodland roads. As the crowds moved south down Warrensville Center Road, police received reports of people breaking windows at apartment complexes. 
  • 32 — The number of officers who assisted Shaker from 12 area police departments, including Beachwood, Cleveland Heights, University Heights, Orange and the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Department. A K-9 was also enlisted.
  • 98 — The total amount of police officers who were present at areas surrounding the 2012 fireworks celebration. There were 58 officers present in 2010, and 49 in 2011.
  • 43 — Firefighters who assisted in the event. Shaker's fire department spent about $5,000 in overtime.
  • $31,600 — Roughly the amount that the city paid for the Fourth of July fireworks this year. That figure includes $14,300 in police department overtime costs, Lee said. In 2010, the overtime amount was about $10,000. In 2011, it was $7,198.
  • — The number of people arrested once calm was restored around 11:45 p.m. Six of the arrests were adults, the other three were juveniles. None were from Shaker Heights.

"The risk associated with Independence Day fireworks outweighs the benefit of the community," Lee said. "For the safety of our residents, their guests and our safety forces, it is my recommendation that the city no longer sponsor this event.

"It's unfortunate, but it's come to that."

Mark Zetzer December 08, 2012 at 04:18 PM
The next 4th of July Fireworks celebration in Shaker Heights should be sponsored and operated by a private contractor who would have a financial self-interest to restrict admission to the immediate area of the Middle School property, in order to charge for that admission. The contractor could entice paying patrons with amenities like seating, food and drink vendors, security screening, additional entertainment, etc., while the surrounding neighborhoods could still enjoy a free show. Shaker police would only need to patrol the area outside the contractor's boundaries, and could save on officer overtime cost. This could be a real classy, safe and fun event for all. Please don't assume that just because the City can't handle the Fireworks show any more, that it therefore has to be canceled. Let the free market solve this problem, like it did at the Thorton Park 32 Degrees Cafe, which the City also threatened to close a few years ago when it couldn't run that amenity any longer.

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