Platkin blames Wildwood for having too few cops on the Boardwalk

WAYNE PARRY Associated Press

New Jersey’s attorney general on Friday charged a Jersey Shore city with not having enough police officers patrolling the Boardwalk over Memorial Day weekend, when the force was overwhelmed and the city temporarily closed the boardwalk.

Matthew Platkin said Wildwood did not have enough police officers assigned to the Boardwalk Sunday, when the city says it was inundated with requests for help responding to incidents of teenagers and young adults creating disturbances.

The disorder prompted the city to close the Boardwalk overnight and seek help from neighboring police departments.

Numerous local officials and police supervisors in Jersey Shore towns, as well as the president of the statewide police union, blame a series of juvenile justice reforms New Jersey has implemented in recent years for encouraging teenagers and giving le feeling that the police can little. do them if they are caught with alcohol or marijuana.

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But during an event in Seaside Heights to check Boardwalk gambling to make sure it’s following state regulations and giving customers a fair chance to win, Platkin defended the law and placed the blame squarely on Wildwood, which he said “employed the least law. law enforcement officers this year than they’ve ever hired.”

“I don’t think we had enough law enforcement officers in Wildwood last weekend, and we’re working to correct that,” he said.

Wildwood officials did not respond to a question about how many officers it assigned to the Boardwalk last weekend. But it said in a statement that additional officers would join the force within days.

The proposed legislation would make it a crime to gather a large crowd in the wake of the violence on the boardwalk

Local state lawmakers are drafting a bill that would make it a crime to gather a large, noisy group of people in public after Ocean City and Wildwood struggled to control groups of teenagers over Memorial Day weekend.

“Every police department is understaffed right now,” said Wildwood Public Safety Commissioner Steve Mikulski. “Young people don’t go into the police or fire academy like they used to. We have people going through the police academy right now who will be coming on board in June. This is the same calendar every year.”

Ocean City suffered a second straight year of unrest over Memorial Day weekend, including the stabbing of a 15-year-old boy who is recovering from non-life-threatening injuries in a case that remains unsolved.

Mayor Jay Gillian, in a note to residents posted on the city’s website Friday, said Ocean City police brought 23 teenagers to the police station for fighting, theft and other crimes. Officers issued more than 1,300 warnings for alcohol, cannabis, curfew and other offences.

“The teenagers involved in these fights were known to each other and came to Ocean City with the intention of harming each other,” Gillian said. “This behavior will not be tolerated and our police department is fully prepared to deal with it.”

Critics blame juvenile justice reforms designed to keep more juveniles out of the court system, which have placed more restrictions on police officers’ interactions with them. In January, the law was revised to remove some of the threat of punishment for officers dealing with minors suspected of possessing alcohol or marijuana.

Platkin said Friday that nothing in the law prevents police from arresting teenagers involved in violent incidents.

“I realize when you have a frustrating episode you want to look for someone to blame. But there is no state regulation that prevents law enforcement from doing their job,” he said. “The law itself is largely not the problem. We need to make sure we have people in place with the right training and that’s what we’re doing now.”