Suffolk County officials are urging residents to stay away from illegal fireworks this July 4 weekend and at a news conference Monday warned those who don’t heed their advisory that they may end up behind bars.
"We will arrest you if you have fireworks," Suffolk County Police Assistant Chief Stuart Cameron said. He said even possessing sparklers is a violation and having commercial-grade fireworks could lead to a felony charge. “Fireworks are completely illegal in New York State.”
At a Monday news conference, police officials packed a sport-utility-vehicle with commercial and consumer-grade fireworks and demonstrated what would happen if fireworks exploded inside the vehicle. The car was packed with the types of fireworks that someone may buy for a Fourth of July party, Cameron said. “I think a lot of people who are viewing this at home can relate to having gone out of state and purchased illegal fireworks and drove them back into New York.”
Within seconds, the vehicle exploded in flames, the windows shattered and colored, whistling sparks flew out of the car. Cameron said a spark could set off the fireworks, for example, if ashes from a cigarette blew back into the car. He also said an auto accident, where the car was rear-ended, could end catastrophically.
“Fireworks are meant for the professionals,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said at the joint news conference at the Suffolk County Fire Academy in Yaphank. “Go out, celebrate the Fourth of July with your family, watch the fireworks, but let the professionals handle it … Our officers will be out and exercising zero tolerance on these issues.”
Bellone and Police Chief James Burke also cautioned that police have increased patrols and will be on high alert for motorists and boaters under the influence of drugs or alcohol. “If you elect to operate a vessel or drive a car this year, we have specific DWI enforcement patrols that will be out for the entire weekend,” Burke said. He warned residents not to “become a statistic” and also said police have been “hyper-focused” on drunken boating enforcement” for the past two years.