Questions grow over lackluster enforcement of fireworks ban

After a noisy start to New Year’s, questions grow over lack of enforcement on fireworks ban

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - It’s been more than a decade since Oahu banned most fireworks but that hasn’t stopped illegal aerials from lighting up the sky on New Year’s Eve.

In fact, the start of 2021 was noisier than ever ― and a number of injuries were reported.

Former state lawmaker Will Espero is calling for stricter enforcement of illegal fireworks, saying police simply aren’t doing enough to stop fireworks from going off.

In fact, between Dec. 29 and Jan. 2, police issued only 45 citations for fireworks and made one arrest.

Espero says it appears police are simply looking the other way when it comes to fireworks, as they apparently did on Waipahu on New Year’s Eve.

Hawaii News Now obtained a video of a man lighting up an aerial firework in the street.

In the video, he quickly runs away after seeing two HPD patrol cars coming down the street leaving the explosive in the road. The firework then shoots directly toward the patrol car.

The HPD cars pause for a few seconds, and then drive past the home.

From the looks of it, the man was not cited.

Espero thinks the belief that fireworks is a tradition in Hawaii leaves officers in a bind.

“And I think some of these HPD officers don’t want to be the Grinch,” said Espero.

“You know, sadly, they should be because that’s their job that’s what they’re paid for and when they don’t take action, then the community thinks it’s OK.”

According to the Emergency Medical Services Department, there were six firework-related injuries compared to five in 2019.

Shayne Enright, EMS spokesperson, says what’s troubling is there were a few children who were injured.

“I believe an eye injury and that’s sad to hear you know, they’re going into their new year now with an injury,” said Enright.

Espero said elected officials and HPD should address the issue at the ports and focus on those dealing and selling illegal fireworks.

“There’s a strong black market of illegal aerials and our local government is not putting in the resources and the time to deal with it,” said Espero.

The Honolulu city council recently passed a resolution asking the state to audit harbor inspection procedures.

Hawaii News Now reached out to Matson’s spokesperson, who said containers on every ship are inspected by state and federal agencies and adds that they are not aware of any illegal fireworks found onboard since implementing their current cargo inspection regime more than 20 years ago.

The spokesperson points out that legal fireworks are shipped to Oahu for permitted events and to other islands, where they’re legal.

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