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Press Releases / 2003 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 30, 2003

MAYOR MICHAEL R. BLOOMBERG, POLICE COMMISSIONER RAYMOND W. KELLY AND FIRE COMMISSIONER NICHOLAS SCOPPETTA URGE NEW YORKERS TO HAVE A SAFE HOLIDAY WEEKEND

New Yorkers Cautioned About Using Illegal Fireworks And Driving While Intoxicated

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, New York Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly and New York Fire (FDNY) Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta today urged New Yorkers to have a safe July 4th holiday weekend and cautioned them against using illegal fireworks, and drinking while driving. The announcement was made at the NYPD's Firearms Training Facility at Rodman's Neck in the Bronx where confiscated fireworks are safely disposed. Through a concerted effort to crack down on the sale of illegal fireworks, only 1,167 seizures took place last year, and to date this year, 758 cases of illegal fireworks have been seized and five people have been arrested. In 1997, the FDNY and NYPD seized over 27,000 cases of fireworks, an all-time record. The public can report illegal fireworks by calling 311.

As we mark our nation's independence, I urge all New Yorkers to be safe celebrating this holiday weekend," said Mayor Bloomberg. "For many years the July 4th weekend was scarred by injuries, fires and arrests caused by illegal fireworks. The Police and Fire Departments have vigorously cracked down on this dangerous menace and their hard work has paid off. Since 1995, the number of New Yorkers injured by illegal fireworks has decreased nearly 90%, fires started by illegal fireworks are down nearly two-thirds, and Fire Marshalls and NYPD arrest less than one-tenth as many people for buying, selling or using illegal fireworks than they did in 1995."

"Another area of concern during this holiday weekend is drinking while driving," added Mayor Bloomberg. "Remember, the City of New York has a zero tolerance policy, and if you are caught driving drunk, we will suspend your license, seize your car and you will go to jail. Nothing ruins a holiday weekend like getting behind the wheel inebriated, getting into an accident and injuring or killing yourself, your friends, family or an innocent bystander."

"We expect this to be a safe and secure holiday weekend," said Police Commissioner Kelly. "The Police Department will focus on three key points: crowd control, counter terrorism, and traffic issues. A large number of officers will be deployed to cover the Macy's Fireworks display as well as other key events over the weekend. Our specialized units, including emergency service officers, aviation, harbor, canine and the bomb squad will be on patrol. Several hundred undercover officers will be in the crowd including many who will ride the transit system both before and after the fireworks show. There will be both Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) and Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) checkpoints around the city, and the Department will aggressively enforce fireworks violations."

"The Fourth of July used to be one of the busiest days of the year for the New York City Fire Department," said Fire Commissioner Scoppetta. "This is no longer the case, and as a result, we have seen a dramatic decrease in both the number of serious fires and injuries resulting from the use of illegal fireworks. The joint Fire-Police task force has done a great job in working together to improve public safety for everyone in the City."

This holiday weekend New Yorkers should take advantage of legal fireworks demonstrations going on around the five boroughs, including the granddaddy of them all, the Macy's fireworks display. This year's spectacular will be expanded to Pier 17 at the South Street Seaport, in addition to the barges between 23rd and 34th Street on the East River. Beginning July 1st there will be fireworks at Orchard Beach, on July 2nd on Wards Island overlooking Astoria Park and at Shea Stadium. There will be fireworks displays at Richmond County Stadium on July 3rd, the Macy's spectacular and a display at Coney Island Beach on the 4th, Wolf Pond Park on Staten Island on July 5th, Snug Harbor Cultural Center on the Staten Island on the 6th and Cherry Hill in Central Park on the 7th.

The NYPD will have sobriety checkpoints in all five boroughs over the weekend. The highway division will have extra units monitoring all of the principle entrance points into the City and foot patrols will be on the lookout for reckless drivers. The NYPD's harbor unit will also be aggressively enforcing BWI laws and will establish checkpoints through the harbor.

Contact: Edward Skyler / Jordan Barowitz (212) 788-2958
Michael O'Looney (NYPD) (646) 610-6700
Francis X. Gribbon (FDNY) (718) 999-2056

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