• The San Juan Daily Star

Police union chief calls on citizens to abstain from fireworks at New Year’s

José J. Taboada de Jesús, president of the Puerto Rico Police Members Association

By The Star Staff

Puerto Rico Police Members Association President José J. Taboada de Jesús urged Puerto Rico residents to avoid using firearms and pyrotechnics during the remaining days of 2021, most especially on New Year’s Eve amid intelligence information that some 50,000 tons of fireworks are slated to be used that day.

“The colleagues of the public security intelligence service have information that this year thousands of tons of household and industrial explosives have been sold that will surely be used in the last days of the year, especially on New Year’s Eve. Citizens must be clear that the use of these fireworks disturbs the tranquility of people of legal age, children and pets that are kept in homes,” he said. “In past years we have experienced intense moments with the flow of rockets, quarter-sticks of dynamite and other explosives that are called fireworks. We do not agree that these so-called fireworks be sold to the public because they create discord in the communities when they are used. We are surprised that most of the people who use these to celebrate Christmas are the same citizens who call ‘Police Headquarters’ to request help or protection from a criminal act.”

Likewise, Taboada de Jesús said, statistics show that many of the shots fired into the air come from people who have a firearm in their residence as a result of a license that they managed to get with the Puerto Rico Police itself.

The union leader said the costly investment that Puerto Ricans make in pyrotechnics is not justified in any way.

“To give you an idea, an average family spends annually between $50 and $300 on fireworks. It is estimated that this year close to one million families have invested an average of $50 million in light pyrotechnics and about $7 million in prohibited explosives,” he said. “Much of the pyrotechnics that arrive on the island come in [shipping] containers and others come through the mail; very little or none have arrived through the airport since the surveillance system increased considerably in recent months.”

There is a highly sophisticated pyrotechnics distribution network which uses island docks as a vehicle to feed the supply of merchandise at all levels, Taboada de Jesús said.

“What worries us the most is that we have information that much of this pyrotechnics supply is moved by minors, a matter that is proven and justified in the underworld because, in the case of intervention with a minor, what is committed is a fault and not a crime,” he said.

He said individuals should moisten fireworks to stop others from using them.

“We call on the public to reconsider and proceed to wet down the pyrotechnics that they have stored in their homes so that they cannot be used,” Taboada de Jesús said. “Any member of the household who does not agree with the use of these explosives must moisten them so that they cannot be used. It is important that people are clear that they should not use explosives near nursing homes or homes for the elderly, or near hospitals, since in most cases they disrupt the peace and health of these people.”

Fireworks are also very harmful to animals, he said.

“There is no doubt that the use of fireworks affects animals, especially dogs and cats, so we ask that you adjust your wishes in order not to interfere with pets,” the union leader said. “To my uniformed colleagues, I only suggest that they be very careful in the process of night rounds in the last days of this year, since the community is armed, supplied with explosives and illegal material that in some way could harm their performance and their lives.”

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