Johnstown planning bigger police presence at next fireworks display

Fireworks from the Star Spangled Fireworks Celebration burst in a colorful display at this year's event. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O'Hara)

JOHNSTOWN — The city is planning a “bigger” police presence at next year’s annual fireworks show at Knox Field because the event is getting larger, officials said.

The event has become huge every summer for the city, and this year’s recent “Star Spangled Fireworks Celebration” was again a hit with the public.

But city officials say that means police have to keep a closer eye on safety issues, albeit they weren’t specific during reports to the Common Council Monday night at City Hall.

Police Chief David Gilbo stated that next year he will dedicate a few more uniformed and non-uniformed officers to the fireworks event.

“There will be a bigger presence,” Gilbo said.

Mayor Vern Jackson said he agreed with the police chief because the “problem is so big.”

Gilbo noted there were “bottlenecks” on Route 30A, and in some cases motorists parked off the highway. He said more police may help.

“I just feel that has to be stepped up in a just in case scenario,” he said.

On Tuesday, the chief elaborated that the fireworks crowds are simply getting larger and the south end of the city gets tied up. He said he’s not reacting to anything specific.

“We haven’t had a problem,” Gilbo said. “It’s just making sure we don’t have a problem.”

Elsewhere in his police report, Gilbo said his department in June had 739 calls for service. He said police during the month handled 93 criminal cases, made 42 arrests, meted out 51 traffic tickets, and investigated 42 motor vehicle accidents.

Gilbo reported two of his officers attended bicycle control training in Albany. He said his department has lost a couple bike officers over the years and is trying to backfill the positions.

The chief said two city officers attended training related to the synthetic opioid, Fentanyl, and several other officers completed annual firearms training last month.

In another public safety report, fire Chief Bruce Heberer said firefighters did inservice training in June. He said the fire department during that month received 154 calls, which included six structure fires and one mutual aid fire in Gloversville. The codes division in June permitted city projects worth about $696,000 in construction costs, and the department conducted 888 inspections.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.

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