2017-06-07 / Front Page

Police, Fire Officials Ready Crackdown On Illegal Fireworks

By Liz Goff
Police in Queens are planning to keep a lid on illegal activity over the upcoming July 4 holiday, including the possession, sale and use of illegal explosives (fireworks), drunk driving and other traffic safety violations.

Police officials are warning Queens residents that they could find themselves behind bars if they are caught with the illegal explosives. Offenders will be arrested and processed through the system, which could keep them behind bars for several days over this year’s extended July 4 holiday weekend.

The crackdown, started by former-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in the mid-1990s, has resulted in the confiscation of massive amounts of illegal fireworks, police said. The annual crackdown has also encouraged people to leave large fireworks displays to experts.

“People don’t understand how deadly fireworks can be,” NYPD officials said. “Dozens of people, many innocent bystanders, are rushed to hospitals each year with debilitating injuries they suffered at amateur fireworks displays, or by handling explosive devices stored in homes and garages.”

“The city’s annual, multi-agency enforcement effort has albeit made that statistic disappear over the last 20 years,” officials said. “It is our intention to continue this effective enforcement in order to maintain quality of life in our neighborhoods and keep July 4 a safer, more enjoyable holiday for all New Yorkers.”

NYPD officials said police at local precincts would be actively engaged in fireworks interdiction and enforcement in the weeks leading up to the 2017 July 4 weekend. Police will also engage in enhanced traffic safety enforcement, including drunk or “buzzed” drivers, motorists who are caught using cellphones, iPhones, tablets or other electronic devices while driving.

Law enforcement sources said the NYPD is planning to establish additional traffic checkpoints over this year’s July 4 holiday weekend, where trained officers will identify and arrest motorists who are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Officers will also be on the lookout for motorists who fail to use their seat belts; drivers who fail to obey traffic signals and drivers who speed through local streets.

Police said Crime Prevention and Community Affairs officers at local precincts will come out to the community over the next few weeks, warning people of the dangers of fireworks in the hands of amateurs.

“People must realize the dangers involved in setting off illegal fireworks,” police and fire officials said. “How many people have to lose a limb or suffer serious injury before they realize that fireworks are deadly in the hands of amateurs?”

Fire officials echoed the message and warned the public that firefighters will also be on the lookout for illegal fireworks through the July 4 weekend. Fire marshals and investigators will also be involved in the fireworks crackdown.

“If you are caught you will go straight to jail, where you will remain until you see a judge,” police officials said. “There will be no exceptions. And remember, this year we have a long holiday weekend.”

The NYPD Fireworks Crackdown will continue through mid-July, officials said.

Police officials are urging the public to stay safe and head to Astoria Park for the 34th annual Independence Day Celebration sponsored by the Central Astoria Local Development Coalition (CALDC). The evening features a flag-waving musical salute to American independence and a spectacular fireworks display presented by the Grucci family.

For more information on the Independence Day celebration, for directions to Astoria Park or for information on programs offered free of charge by the CALDC, call 718-728-7820 or visit www.centralastoria.org

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