Photo credit: Melvin Grounds has dedicated this photo to the public domain

by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, and Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition

As he did in June 2020, Mayor de Blasio has again announced a task force to address the “ongoing problem of illegal fireworks.” The number of complaints about illegal fireworks was overwhelming in 2020 and complaints to 311 have already started this spring. This task force will be comprised of officers from the police department’s intelligence bureau, the fire department’s fire marshals’ division, and the city’s deputy sheriff’s office.

New York City Sheriff Joseph Fucito stressed that a strong effort will be made to prevent fireworks from entering the city in the first place and he will be working with “state police from New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, the Port Authority and the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms” to this end.

Illegal fireworks are dangerous and can cause serious injuries and, of course, as many New Yorkers know these fireworks are noisy and “they disrupt the peace of neighborhoods.” Groups throughout the city, e.g. Inwood/Washington Heights Taskforce (WaHi-Inwood), have been most articulate about the need to curb illegal fireworks this year.

Having had a task force to deal with illegal fireworks last year, I would like to know if there are any reports pertaining to the activities of that task force and, if so, will these reports be used to assist the task force this year as they tackle the problem of illegal fireworks. Furthermore, with community groups expressing their outrage at the illegal fireworks last year and coming up with suggestions to reduce these illegal fireworks, I would have hoped that the task force would have included representatives from these groups. I don’t think it is too late to appoint several citizen members to the task force.

On a more positive note, Macy’s announced that it will once again celebrate the Fourth of July with its magnificent fireworks show. New Yorkers will be looking forward to this event. Also, the mayor announced that he will shortly inform New Yorkers how they can display legal fireworks for their enjoyment.