New York is one of several major cities reporting a huge increase in complaints of illegal fireworks, joining Boston, San Francisco, Oakland, Pasadena, and others.
“We are going to start a big undercover operation to get these illegal fireworks down at the base,” de Blasio said in his daily briefing. “Which means they are sold everywhere in New York City, and even where they are sold in neighboring states that we know are reaching New York City.”
The task force will be comprised of 10 officers from the New York Police Intelligence Office, 12 FDNY Fire Commissioners, and 20 members of the Sheriff’s Office of Criminal Investigation. They will work together to identify where the fireworks are coming from, focus on providers and capture them when they can, De Blasio said.
“We go to suppliers,” de Blasio said. “All kinds of actions will be taken. Undercover shopping, undercover operations, finding where the supply is and cutting it to the knees.”
Fireworks have been a continuing problem in New York City, and complaints skyrocketed in June.
From June 1 to June 21, 11,275 calls were made to the city to report illegal fireworks. During the same period last year, there were only 28 calls, according to 311 data released by the mayor’s office.
Residents who got tired of hearing the blast and the blast of the night staged a protest outside De Blasio’s residence, honking their car horns as a way to implore the mayor to take action.
And on Tuesday, New York Police Chief Detectives Rodney Harrison posted a video on Twitter asking for help identifying a man seen throwing fireworks at a homeless man sleeping on the sidewalk in Harlem. The images show the unknown man escaping moments before an explosion and a flash of fire is seen burning the man’s back.
Police are still looking for the man who fired the fireworks.
Despite the move to create the task force, there is no plan to target individuals who are launching fireworks in the city.
“Business as usual,” the official said when asked about what to expect Tuesday night in New York City.
The focus, the official said, is on the main suppliers and distributors, not on the people who light fireworks.
Brooklyn County President Eric Adams says he has had to take calls from residents asking him to speak to local police precincts to step up the app.
Adams says he has been going out to Brooklyn neighborhoods at night to talk to the young people who set off fireworks.
Adams, a former NYPD member who retired in 2005, said he wanted to be there in case the situation between a police officer and a young man became tense and he wanted to help calm any potential situation.
“I don’t want police officers who are frustrated and angry at the protest to take the wrong step,” said Adams. “There is one thing more dangerous than a man who has nothing to lose. He is a young man who has nothing to lose.”