Police say public plays key role in enforcing Hawaii’s fireworks ban

It’s been nearly six years since Oahu’s fireworks ban took effect.

While novelty fireworks, like sparklers and fountains, are no longer allowed, the use of illegal aerials isn’t going away.

We checked with police and learned 911 dispatchers received 216 calls about fireworks just this month, and there’s still a month to go until the new year.

Last holiday season, HPD received 1,500 calls, issued over 150 citations, confiscated nearly 3,000 pounds of fireworks, and made five arrests.

So what are police doing this year to address the problem? HPD said there have been no arrests so far.

That includes a case we first told you about on Monday, after an aerial firework sparked a small fire on top of a home in Waipio.

If someone was caught possessing or setting off illegal fireworks, what would be the penalties?

“Depending on the circumstances, violators may be given a warning, issued a citation, or arrested,” said Maj. Allan Nagata, Honolulu Police Communications Division.

HPD relies on detailed information from callers who hear or see illegal fireworks. Nagata says these public reports help police patrols focus on specific areas.

Can eye witness accounts provide sufficient evidence for an arrest?

“In general, an officer would have to witness the violation or we would have to get a statement from a witness,” said Nagata.

As for how illegal fireworks keep coming into our state, Nagata said he couldn’t answer.

“It was stated earlier by our assistant chief that they will be doing operations to address those issues regarding fireworks coming into our islands or the illegal fireworks,” he said.

An illegal fireworks task force did recommend increased random inspections of domestic cargo coming through our harbors.

As far as foreign shipments, U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspects those.

“We haven’t seized anything in a number of years,” said Jim Kosciuk, chief for trade at the Honolulu port of entry. “We have rejected some containers coming in that lacked the documentation, so they were required to be exported back.”

Police are asking for the public’s help any time they hear or see illegal fireworks. Callers can remain anonymous.

Officials say the more information they have, the better the enforcement will be.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s