COLUMBUS, Ohio — City leaders wanted to send a message Friday that the return of Red, White and BOOM! would be both fun and safe.
“I’m excited about this,” said Columbus Division of Police Chief Elaine Bryant of her first BOOM! event. “I know that it’s going to be good. We’re prepared. We’re ready. We want families to come down, have a really great time, and know that we are ready for them, and this is going to be a phenomenal event.”
The city has cameras in place, along with officers, both in uniform and plain clothes. Plus, the city is partnering with other local agencies, along with the ATF, FBI and Ohio State Highway Patrol.
“There’s a lot of pent-up demand for being together, seeing fireworks and celebrating America’s independence, so just asking people to be patient, to be kind, and to make sure they’re doing everything they can to stay safe,” Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said.
Ginther pointed to a successful Pride weekend as an example of the city being prepared and able to handle big crowds and keep them safe.
Chief Bryant also pointed out that there has been nearly a 40% drop in homicides since last year. And the solve rate for cases is up as well.
“As the chief mentioned, we are making some strides,” the mayor said. “We’re not settling for that. We want to be the safest big city in America. We’re not yet. But we think this event is going to be a great family event and wonderful for families.”
New this year, however, are two new state laws now in effect. Those include the new bill allowing adults who qualify to carry a concealed weapon without a permit and the new law allowing consumers to set off consumer-grade fireworks unless their local city or town bans them.
“It’s still against the law in the City of Columbus,” Mayor Ginther said. “We don’t need them down here. We’re going to have a couple hundred thousand of our neighbors down here. Let’s leave fireworks to the professionals who will be shooting them off at about 10 o’clock this evening and enjoying those. Discharging and using fireworks in the City of Columbus is still illegal, and the police will be working with fire and others to make sure those laws are enforced.”
And Chief Bryant said officers are ready to enforce the city’s ban if people are breaking the rules.
“Our priority is safety for everyone, so if you see someone that is not following the law, we’re going to address those concerns in the way that we’re supposed to,” Chief Bryant said. “Myself and Fire Chief Happ, we work very closely together to make sure that we are on the same page in addressing any issues like that.”