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New Jersey’s police union calls for ‘real consequences’ for drunk, rowdy teens after boardwalk unrest

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ – New Jersey’s statewide police union said Wednesday that there should be “real consequences” for drunk, rowdy teens and adults who cause chaos in public places after a series of disturbances in Jersey Shore towns over Memorial Day weekend, including the stabbing of a teenager.

Peter Andreyev, president of the New Jersey State Policemens’ Benevolent Association, issued a statement calling for changes in the laws and procedures that govern how police interact with disorderly teens and young adults.

His statement followed a weekend in which a wave of disorderly youth and young adults overwhelmed police in Wildwood on Sunday evening, forcing the city to temporarily close and evacuate the boardwalk.

Ocean City experienced its second consecutive Memorial Day weekend of disruption, with numerous fights, disturbances and the stabbing of a 15-year-old boy. He is recovering from non-life-threatening wounds.

And a false report of a shooting in Seaside Heights briefly sparked panic on the boardwalk there, authorities said.

“The recent outbursts by young people are a sign that more needs to be done to enable police to protect our communities,” Andreyev said. “This past weekend is further proof that the law has been broken. There must be real consequences for violent, drunken and dangerous behavior for both young people and adults.

“The lack of consequences for bad behavior has once again proven to be a failed criminal justice policy,” he continued. “Thousands of people were affected by the lawlessness this weekend; that must be stopped.”

Officials in numerous Jersey Shore cities, along with multiple police departments, blame juvenile justice reforms the state has implemented in recent years. The laws were intended to keep more youth out of the justice system and placed several restrictions on police officers’ interactions with them.

In January, the law was revised to remove some punishment threats for officers who deal with young people suspected of possessing alcohol or marijuana.

Governor Phil Murphy said these changes put law enforcement in a better position to deal with disorderly teens. In an interview with News 12 New Jersey on Tuesday, the governor said “the coast did not have a chaotic weekend.”

“The weekend was overwhelmingly a successful weekend, even in those cities,” Murphy told the television station. “A few hours ago I was with the mayor of Wildwood and he said we had a great weekend. We just happened to have an overflow of, it sounds like, a bunch of teenagers.”

The Public Prosecution Service declined to comment.

Ocean City Mayor Jay Gillian said his city is fed up with rowdy young people looking to cause trouble.

“Our officers made several arrests… and were able to quickly restore order to the boardwalk after the teens involved in these incidents were removed,” he wrote in a post on the city’s website. “We have a highly qualified team of officers on the promenade and throughout the city, and they will enforce all laws to the fullest.

“Ocean City will always be welcoming to all guests, but I want to send a clear message to parents and teens: if you don’t want to behave, don’t come.”

In a message on his own city’s website, Mayor Ernest Troiano Jr. of Wildwood similar sentiments.

“Wildwood will not tolerate unruly, undisciplined children without parents, nor will we stand by while the laws of the state tie the hands of law enforcement,” he wrote. “We strongly support the City of Wildwood Police Department in protecting this community from these disruptive crowds on our boardwalk and throughout the city.”

Wildwood officials did not provide details of individual incidents that led to the six-hour overnight closure of the boardwalk, but said there were “an unstoppable number” of calls for help to police.

The Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office said Wildwood police acted appropriately by closing the boardwalk to restore order.

Two Republican senators on Wednesday called on the Democratic-controlled Legislature to pass their bill that expands the definition of a riot, allowing local officials in cities who propose cuts to police to call on the state to refund the money and adding prison sentences of up to 50%. up to six months for someone who throws or hits something at police officers or other first responders.

“Riots and vandalism will drive away visitors and destroy the summer season,” said Sen. Robert Singer, who co-sponsored the legislation with Sen. Joseph Pennacchio. “We as a state cannot afford that.”

Follow Wayne Parry on X at www.twitter.com/WayneParryAC

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