NEW YORK - A new law enforcement task force will be taking on the growing problem of illegal fireworks in New York City.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Tuesday the formation of a team of police officers, FDNY investigators, and sheriff's deputies that will try to cut off the supply chain of fireworks coming from out of state.
Fireworks are illegal in New York but legal in nearby Pennsylvania, where several fireworks retailers are located near its borders with New Jersey and New York.
In recent weeks, the city has fielded numerous complaints of fireworks going off at all hours of the day and night. The NYPD said it has received more than 11,000 complaints so far in June.
"Illegal fireworks are both dangerous and a public nuisance," de Blasio said. "We're cracking down on this activity at the source to ensure the safety of all New Yorkers and the ability of our neighbors to get some sleep."
The task force will be made up of 10 cops from the NYPD Intelligence Bureau, 12 FDNY fire marshals, and 20 members of the city sheriff's Criminal Investigation Bureau. They will carry out investigations and sting operations in and near New York City, the mayor said.
"For any number of reasons the use of illegal firework has skyrocketed this year and that has damaged the quality of life in our neighborhoods," Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said. "The NYPD will continue to work closely with our city partners to address this dangerous issue."
The FDNY will soon roll out a public awareness campaign about the dangers of handling and using fireworks.
Dozens of New Yorkers who said they are fed up with the shooting off of illegal fireworks gathered outside Gracie Mansion, the mayor's residence, late Monday night and into the early morning hours Tuesday to protest. They shouted slogans and honked their car horns, videos showed.
With The Associated Press