Drunk, unruly teens are taking over the Jersey Shore and the solution is leaving police baffled and divided

New Jersey’s state police union said Wednesday there needs to be “real consequences” for drunk and rowdy teens and adults who create chaos in public places following a series of riots in Jersey Shore towns over the weekend. Memorial Day weekend, which included the stabbing of a teenager.

Peter Andreyev, president of the New Jersey State Police Benevolent Association, issued a statement calling for changes to laws and procedures governing how police interact with disruptive teens and young adults.

His statement came after a weekend in which a wave of rowdy youths and young adults overwhelmed police capabilities in Wildwood on Sunday night, prompting the city to temporarily close and clear the boardwalk.

Ocean City suffered its second consecutive weekend of Memorial Day unrest, with numerous fights, riots and the stabbing of a 15-year-old boy. He is recovering from non-life-threatening injuries.

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

“The recent youth outbursts are a sign that more needs to be done to allow police to protect our communities,” Andreyev said. “Last weekend is further proof that the law is being broken. There need to be real consequences for violent, drunk and dangerous behavior for both youth and adults.

“Not having consequences for bad behavior has once again proven to be a failed criminal justice policy,” he continued. “Thousands of people were affected by lawlessness this weekend; “That has to be stopped.”

Officials in numerous Jersey Shore towns, along with several police departments, blame juvenile justice reforms enacted by the state in recent years. The laws were designed to keep more youths out of the justice system and placed several restrictions on police officers’ interactions with them.

In January, the law was revised to eliminate some of the threats of punishment for officers dealing with minors suspected of possessing alcohol or marijuana.

Gov. Phil Murphy said those changes have put authorities in a better position to deal with disorderly teens. In an interview with News 12 New Jersey, the governor said Tuesday that “the coast did not have a chaotic weekend.”

“The weekend was overwhelmingly successful, even even in those cities,” Murphy told the television station. “A couple of hours ago I was talking to the mayor of Wildwood and he told me we had a fantastic weekend. It just so happened that we had this invasion of, apparently, a group of teenagers.”

The state attorney general’s office declined to comment.

Ocean City Mayor Jay Gillian said his city is fed up with young troublemakers bent on causing trouble.

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

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

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

“Wildwood will not tolerate unruly, undisciplined, parentless children nor will we stand by while state laws tie the hands of police,” he wrote. “We wholeheartedly support the City of Wildwood Police Department in protecting this community from these nuisance crowds on our boardwalk and in town.”

Wildwood officials did not provide details about the individual incidents that led to the boardwalk’s overnight closure for six hours, but said there were “an overwhelming number” of calls for help to the police department.

The Cape May County prosecutor said Wildwood police acted appropriately by closing the boardwalk to restore order.

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

“Riots and vandalism will drive away visitors and devastate the summer season,” said Sen. Robert Singer, who proposed the legislation with Sen. Joseph Pennacchio. “As a state, we can’t afford that.”

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