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Complaints about the use of illegal fireworks on the rise

Being shot off late at night and early morning

GLOVERSVILLE — City officials have reportedly been fielding a growing number of complaints in recent weeks over the use of illegal fireworks in the city late at night and into the early morning hours.

Councilman-at-Large William Rowback Jr. during Tuesday’s Common Council meeting shared with Police Chief Anthony Clay that he has received “numerous” complaints from residents over the use of fireworks in the city late at night between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m.

“I’ve also had a lot of complaints,” said 4th Ward Councilwoman Ellen Anadio. “I’ve never gotten calls the way I am this year.”

Clay noted that police have also received complaints regarding the use of illegal fireworks in specific areas of the city.

A bill signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2014 allows counties in the state to permit the sale and use of sparklers, ground-based and hand-held fireworks that may emit smoke, colored flames and whistling or crackling noises. Fulton and Montgomery counties approved the sale of these devices in 2015.

All other types of consumer or display fireworks, including firecrackers, bottle rockets, Roman candles, spinners and aerial devices, are illegal to sell or possess without a permit statewide.

The police chief noted that officers will be directed to patrol the neighborhoods where recurring issues have been identified, but Clay said that fireworks investigations are “very difficult by their nature.”

“Our officers almost have to be in the area while they’re happening,” said Clay.

Clay said officers often narrow down the area where fireworks have been set off from the odor that is initially left behind, but police must then successfully identify and locate the individual who was responsible for lighting the device.

“It’s very difficult for us,” said Clay.

“We’re trying,” he added.

Sixth Ward Councilman Wrandy Sarkowski questioned whether tents that are allowed to operate each year from June 20 to July 5 under state law may be selling the illegal fireworks that have recently become an issue in the city, around the same time that tents began popping up locally.

But Clay stated that these vendors are investigated by the state as part of the permitting process under which they are allowed to operate annually.

Some fireworks that are illegal to sell or possess without a permit in New York state are legal in other states. Offenders of New York state laws regarding fireworks may face a violation for the first instance of use or possession, various levels of misdemeanors for the illegal sale of devices and up to a class E felony for additional offenses of possession within a five year period or for furnishing an individual under the age of 18 with illegal fireworks.

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