Drones to monitor for illegal fireworks this July in Grover Beach

June 21, 2022


Independence Day In Grover Beach typically results in dozens of calls to law enforcement reporting the illegal use of fireworks. This Fourth of July, the Grover Beach Police Department plans to monitor the city through a team of 12 drones to ensure the safety of the community.

“Fireworks are a traditional part of Fourth of July celebrations, yet every year people take needless risks by violating the law and established safety regulations,” said John Peters, Grover Beach chief of police. “The Grover Beach Police Department typically receives an average of 47 calls for service regarding the illegal use of fireworks each July 4 holiday period.”

In May of 2020, the City of Grover Beach amended its fireworks ordinance to limit the public discharge period for legal fireworks to July 4 between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. Legal “Safe and Sane” fireworks are those that are neither a projectile nor explosive and are commonly referred to as fountains, sparklers, smokeballs, snake-type fireworks, ground-spinning fireworks, pinwheels, most novelty fireworks, and some crackling items.

In Feb. 2022, the city launched its drone program to increase its response and investigation capabilities and to proactively detect crimes in progress. The team of twelve drones and seven trained pilots helps keep officers and the community safe by playing an active role in public safety incidents that call for increased situational surveillance, such as search warrants, missing persons, building searches and ocean searches.

On July 4, while responding to calls from the Police Department, the drone team will also be working closely with a team of officers on the ground regarding illegal fireworks.

Violators who illegally discharge fireworks in San Luis Obispo County face up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.


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2″‘ mortars are set off in SLO neighborhoods all the time. One set fire to my neighbors deck, put out with a pitcher of water. The police do not care as they know they can do nothing about it. I gave them some mortar bases from a student rental backyard and was threatened with arrest for trespassing. Fortunately, the slumlord built an illegal unit connected with an extension cord and no water/sewer. We made a deal with him to evict the tenant in exchange for not filing a code enforcement complaint. There is still one more person in the neighborhood firing mortars, UTL.


Does Grover Beach P.D. use citizen volunteers or hire high school students part-time to pilot their drones or are they paying full-time employees six-figure salaries to be drone pilots?


There’s probably not a lot of high school students and volunteers who have the FAA required drone pilot license, so the P.D. has their excuse to pay their pilots six-figure salaries.


A remote pilot’s certificate is extremely easy to get.


Don’t waste your holiday getting fined or arrested for using fireworks. Celebrate your patriotism “Kalifornia” style by shoplifting $899 of beer and American flags from WalMart or Walgreens. The police will be too busy booking teens into juvenile detention who were caught using sparklers.


I think we should do away with fireworks altogether. Have a 4th of July party without them. In addition to a fire hazard, it’s a day of terror for pets and other animals.


Ba Humbug!


Those drones are going to be shot down in no time.


They do make good targets but remember that they have GOOD cameras on them.


May I suggest they also you it for other illegal activity. They can watch over the proposed pot bars and regular bars for D.U.I.’s for example. It very well could save many lives if they did this.


All this will do is move the people setting off the illegal fireworks from their own backyards to the streets or other public places. Not likely a drone will be able to track a person when set off on public property, plus a person can light it and walk away the drone will unlikely be able help. A waste of money.

Jorge Estrada

I question the expense of using drones, most people do not like this invasion of privacy. I understand the concern over dangerous behavior although things have drastically settled down over the last few decades, therefore the drones are just a new beginning for what’s to come.


Eh, no more invasive than the security cameras, satellites, and data tracking going on all the time already. Just another tool in the bag.


I agree Jorge. Enough of the gadgets, tech, speed boats, etc…more community policing and increased respect and communication between law enforcement and the community.

Downtown Bob

Oh I feel so safe. First, the idea to get a drone was to just provide for officer safety. Not for surveillance. Now all of a sudden the city has 12 drones and is going to make sure you don’t have any of those dangerous fireworks. Never mind the fact that despite thousands of the dangerous fireworks being launched every Indepenence day for decades only a handful of incidents occur. Maybe they really are not all that dangerous, and we have turned into a surveillance local government hunting for big fines rather than protection?