Albany County leaders move to ban “sparkling devices”

Local

ALBANY COUNTY, N.Y. (NEWS10) Ahead of July 4th and amid an uptick of complaints, the Albany County Legislature has announced legislation to restrict the use of ground based sparklers, but leaders admit these legal fireworks are only part of the problem.

County and city lawmakers say the ground sparklers for sale across Albany County are causing more problems than anticipated when they were legalized in 2016.

“I’m going to do a rare thing for a politician to do at this point and say that I got it wrong,” said Legislature Chair Andrew Joyce.  

He says there has been a correlation between the legalization of sparklers four years ago and the increased use of illegal fireworks.  

“We’ve heard them pretty much every night, so it’s not sparklers that are causing the problem,” said Albany resident, Jack McPadden. 

Lead sponsor of the bill, Matthew Peter agrees they’re only a part of the problem, but says the devices pack a much greater punch than the sticks you hold in your hand. That makes it difficult for officers to distinguish illegal fireworks from the legal ones, he says. 

“it makes enforcement, just getting them off the streets very hard.” 

Sheriff Craig Apple agrees the county should restrict the use of the devices and says the uptick in illegal fireworks could have to do with recent high unemployment.  

“It gave a lot of other people a lot of other time to drive to, let’s just say, New Hampshire and come back with a van filled with pyrotechnics,” said Apple.  

Mayor Kathy Sheehan says some of them are coming from closer to home. 

“I’ve been told that there are fireworks being made in Columbia County and other places that are more homemade. Those are the scariest,” said Sheehan.  

Leaders say the main concerns are fire safety, kids, pets, and veterans dealing with PTSD. 

“You may think you’re celebrating your freedom, but you are disrespecting every veteran that fought for that freedom,” said Dr. Gerry Ladouceur, a deacon at Albany Stratton VA.  

The bill would be introduced in July but wouldn’t go into effect until next year. Albany resident Jack McPadden, says stopping the nightly nuisance won’t come down to legislation, but respect. 

“A little simple common courtesy for your neighbors, might start,” said McPadden.

Mayor Sheehan met with neighborhood association groups that will help distribute door knob signs with information, including the option to call the Albany Police Department (518-438-4000) or the Capital Region Crime Stoppers to report or surrender illegal fireworks.

There have been hundreds of complaints of illegal fireworks in the City of Albany alone in recent weeks. Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins says his department is actively working to find out where these fireworks are coming from.

Legislature Chair Andrew Joyce tweeted about second guessing his stance on legal firework products in Albany County. This, despite the fact that illegal fireworks are the issue cited by most local law enforcement and city officials.

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