Honolulu’s mayor, police chief say systemic changes needed after ‘disturbing’ night of fireworks

Despite the concern, neither provided a detailed outline on what that would look like.
Published: Jan. 3, 2023 at 3:13 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 3, 2023 at 4:38 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Amid a debate over changes to fireworks laws in the wake of a loud and dangerous new year, both Honolulu’s police chief and its mayor said Tuesday that long-term, systemic changes are needed to ease the situation.

Despite the concern, neither provided an outline on what that would look like.

“I think that’s going to take federal, state and local entities working together strategically to look at one, how are they getting here, and number two, how can we as an organization among our federal and state partners help to curb or eradicate what’s coming in,” Honolulu Police Chief Joe Logan said.

It’s been 12 years since Honolulu banned most fireworks, including sparklers. But this past New Year’s Eve proved one of the busiest in recent memory.

Honolulu Mayor Blangiardi described the night as “disturbing.”

“They were so loud, it didn’t even sound like they were fireworks,” he said. “You know, I think all of us appreciate a great fireworks show. And certainly I understand culturally people setting off fireworks in their yards. But the stuff that was going on, it was so loud, almost like a war zone.”

Logan said HPD received more than 2,400 calls regarding fireworks on New Year’s Eve. Officers issued 17 citations, made three arrests and confiscated nearly 300 pounds of fireworks.

Ahead of the holiday, Honolulu police focused on preventing people from stopping on freeways to watch fireworks rather than attempting to deter people setting off fireworks themselves.

When asked whether that may have distracted officers from their ability to enforce fireworks laws, Logan said they could only do so much and that they did an “amazing” job given the circumstances.


“It’s not fair with 2,000 officers out there trying to do what they do every day, and then to add fireworks into that would not be fair to us,” he said.

Blangiardi agreed that there’s not much officers could’ve done with regards to enforcement and that long-term changes are needed.

“I know that the police can only do so much, you know, and you just have to be practical and just accept the circumstances, but we’ve got to do a better job, if possible,” Blangiardi said.

“I’ve been going through New Year’s Eve here in Hawaii since 1965, but this was, I think, unprecedented … especially what sounded more like explosions than fireworks.”

Honolulu Emergency Services Director Dr. Jim Ireland described it as a “pretty brutal night,” with at least eight people seriously injured by illegal fireworks.

Emergency responders also got at least 25 calls from people who were having difficulty breathing.

Only firecrackers with a permit are legal.