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City Creating Special Task Force to Crack Down on Illegal Fireworks

Fireworks packaging left behind from a summer night last year at Hunters Point (Photo provided by Mark Christie)

June 11, 2021 By Allie Griffin

The city is creating a multi-agency task force to crack down on illegal fireworks this summer, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced earlier this week.

The task force will be comprised of 32 agents — 10 officers from the NYPD Intelligence Bureau, 12 fire marshals from the FDNY and 10 deputy sheriffs from the Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

The officers will also collaborate with the Port Authority, New York State Police, Yonkers Police, New Jersey State Police and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to share intel and resources.

The task force will aim to prevent fireworks from entering New York City by targeting major suppliers.

“We’re going after the people who bring these fireworks into New York City to begin with,” de Blasio said. “We’re getting right at the source.”

New York City residents lodged thousands of complaints regarding illegal fireworks last summer, including in Queens.

In Queens, residents filed more than 9,600 complaints about illegal fireworks with 311 from June 1 through August 31, 2020, according to NYC open data. There were only 229 fireworks complaints in the borough during the same period in 2020.

The complaints were particularly high in the waterfront neighborhoods of Astoria, Long Island City and Far Rockaway last year.

The illegal fireworks activity appears to be making a return.

There have been more than 450 complaints of illegal fireworks in Queens alone since May 1, according to 311 data.

“Each summer we look forward to the right kind of fireworks… but we also know that there’s a real problem with the wrong fireworks,” de Blasio said. “Illegal fireworks are noisy; they disrupt the peace in neighborhoods, but they can also be dangerous.”

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