And two people were cited for illegal fireworks possession.
Really? Just two, despite hours-long displays that sounded like aerial bombing campaigns?
"Remember, people shooting off fireworks don't usually stick around when the LAPD guys roll up," said Smith.
He recalled working in San Pedro on Fourth of July many years ago and coming upon hordes of people launching fireworks at Cabrillo Beach.
"We confiscated what we could, but it was a little overwhelming, to be honest with you. When you have hundreds of people shooting hundreds of things in the air, if you drive up in a black-and-white, people drop what they have."
Dennis Revell, spokesman for a company that sells so-called safe-and-sane fireworks — which are legal in many California cities, but not in Los Angeles — said a good percentage of illegal fireworks come from Nevada. And throughout California, he said, gangs have been known to get in on the action.
"Illegal fireworks importation and resale has been a very large source of income for gang operations," Revell said.
"That's a possibility," said Smith, who had no direct knowledge of gang involvement. But if you can load a truck with fireworks in Nevada "and drive four hours to L.A., I'm sure more than gang members are doing it."
Tuesday morning, I visited a man who said his street south of Washington Boulevard was the launching pad for an hours-long show featuring a deafening array of professional-quality explosive devices that arced high and wide across the sky. He collected remnants from the next morning's debris, some of them nearly the size of traffic cones.
The man didn't want his name used, for fear of reprisals from the culprits, and the same applied to a woman who lives near him.
"We called the cops and they didn't show up. It took us three calls to get an actual dispatcher," said the woman. "They said OK, we'll try to send someone out."
But she didn't see any police on the street, and the show went on, deep into the night.
"It's not a peaceful night around the neighborhood," said the woman, who called the house-rattling concussions massive. "It's a torturous night for neighbors and animals."
Clearly, the prevention strategy is a bust, so maybe next year they ought to launch a plan that makes "swift prosecution" more than lip service.
The guy with the fireworks debris had one scary-looking, empty shell called Shogun Crackling Saturn Missiles, which features 200 canisters of explosives.
"WARNING," said an advisory. "SHOOTS FLAMING BALLS."
It's pretty amazing we didn't lose a neighborhood or two.