Videos Capture Arrests and Chaos at the NJ Shore: Crackdowns, Curfews Coming
After a weekend of rowdy behavior at this family-friendly resort town without liquor licenses, Ocean City Mayor Jay Gillian has ordered beaches to close at 8 PM.
Officials here have also banned backpacks on beaches and boardwalks after 8 PM for all visitors of any age.
Meanwhile, in Seaside Heights several TikTok videos recorded large crowds on the boardwalk and several arrests. Seaside Heights Police Chief Tommy Boyd said it was a busier-than-normal weekend with teens screaming and yelling on the boardwalk.
"They're at two o'clock, three o'clock in the morning. You got kids got nothing to do. The kids definitely took over the boardwalk but it was all high school," Boyd said. "And the college kids I saw and I talked to from Paterson from Jersey City were like, 'We weren't like this when were kids.' It's a different world."
Municipal officials in Seaside Heights will be monitoring the crowds to get an idea of how the rest of the season will go.
In Ocean City, Gillian said that police responded to nearly 1,000 incidents during the Memorial Day weekend, including underage drinking, vandalism, assaults, confiscation of a handgun and shoplifting. It was an increase from 869 incidents during the 2022 holiday.
EMT crews were also busy dealing with unconscious people who passed out from too much drinking, as well as mental health issues, according to the mayor.
“We want parents, grandparents and families to know that we’re all in this together, and we will be holding people accountable,” Gillian said. “I also want to send a message to our governor and legislators that the laws they forced on all municipalities are a threat to public safety, and they deprive families of the opportunity to enjoy the Jersey Shore.”
Bail reform gets the blame
The mayor specifically blamed bail reform, which he says has limited what law enforcement can do when it comes to juveniles.
"Statewide legislation largely stripped police officers of the ability to question juveniles, search juveniles, and confiscate alcohol. The legislation also eliminates meaningful consequences for juveniles who break these laws," Gillian said in a written statement.
Bathrooms will close at 10 PM and a 11 PM curfew for teens is in effect.
“I understand that these new directives will affect many people who are not teens, but it’s important that we stop this type of behavior now,” Gillian said. “In the end, protecting our reputation as ‘America’s Greatest Family Resort’ will benefit everybody in Ocean City.”
'Yelling and screaming' on the boardwalk
Boyd also is frustrated with bail rules enacted under Gov. Chris Christie and how his officers can handle underage drinking.
"We can't write them for drinking underage anymore so a good percentage of them were drinking and when you're that young and you drink and you just do stupid things right," Boyd said.
He also blamed the curfews in Ortley Beach and Normandy Beach for sending teens to Seaside Heights.
An increase in disrespect
Seaside Heights Mayor Anthony Vaz he's seen an increase in disrespectful behavior on the part of teens.
"I've been here 56 years and every Memorial Day for 56 years has been a problem. We had the motorcycle gangs, we had this, we had that and we got by it," Vaz said. "This year was different. We saw a lot of kids. We had our policemen, our summer force, we've had the prosecutor's office here, the sheriff's office.
The mayor chalked it up to proms and graduations.
"If we see this influx of young, disrespectful kids, we're going to do things. I don't know what right now I have to consult with a legal opinion more knowledgeable than me to find out what we can do to paralyze these behaviors. There's gotta be a stop. It's not fair to the residents, it's not fair to the tourism and it's not fair to the police."
Vaz said that when he was a teen his did "crazy things" when he was out with friends on the boardwalk. But when the police showed up his attitude changed. That's not the case anymore, according to the mayor who is a former school teacher and school superintendent.
"Cop's hands are tied. They can't do anything because they're juveniles or you gotta call Mommy up. Or we got to give them a warning first before we call mommy. Where are we going? Where we going with this? Enough is enough," Vaz said.
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