Shore Shock: New Jersey AG Lays Blame on Town for Lacking Police Presence During Chaotic Boardwalk Brawl” Or, “Coastal Calamity: New Jersey Town Under Fire for Insufficient Police Presence Amidst Melee on Boardwalk” Or, “Jersey Jam: Town Scrutinized as Police Absence Fuels Violence on Boardwalk – Attorney General Speaks Out

On Friday, New Jersey’s Attorney General, Matthew Platkin, criticized the municipality of Seaside Heights, specifically naming Wildwood, for not having sufficient police officers patrolling their boardwalk during the Memorial Day weekend. The understaffing occurred on the Sunday of the weekend, according to the city, when they encountered a high volume of calls to respond to incidents involving rowdy teens and young adults causing disturbances on the boardwalk. As a result, the city was forced to close the boardwalk for the night and seek assistance from neighboring police departments.

Wildwood officials have not commented on how many officers they had assigned during that weekend. However, they mentioned that additional officers will be joining the force within a few days. Commissioner Steve Mikulski of Wildwood Public Safety explained that the law enforcement industry is facing a shortage due to decreasing numbers of new recruits joining the police or fire academy.

The city of Ocean City faced disturbances in back-to-back Memorial Day weekends, including the stabbing of a 15-year-old boy and numerous other incidents involving fights and violations such as shoplifting and underage drinking. As a response, Ocean City authorities brought 23 teens into their police station and issued over 1,300 warnings for various infractions. The city’s mayor acknowledged that the teenagers involved in these incidents had pre-existing relationships, and promised strict action from the police department.

Critics have linked the recent juvenile justice reforms implemented in New Jersey, which were designed to keep juveniles out of the legal system, with emboldening teens and providing them with a false sense of invincibility when it comes to alcohol or marijuana possession. According to Platkin, the juvenile justice reforms do not preclude law enforcement officers from performing their duty. He emphasized that the primary issues are the lack of trained staff and the need for adequate resources rather than the laws themselves.