Senator believes Murphy restrictions on police opened door to “mayhem” at Jersey Shore
It's a concerning trend turned problem and one at a point where certain simple reversals of policies could lead to simple solutions and the problem of partying it up to the extreme on beaches, boardwalks and family venues at the Jersey Shore will slowly fizzle away.
Point Pleasant Beach Mayor Paul Kanitra took it personally in 2020 and even posted a video to his Facebook page, then spoke with Townsquare Media News following a massive gathering on Jenkinson's Beach where guests trashed the family-friendly beach community by drinking alcohol, smoking marijuana, urinated in bushes and threw trash seemingly everywhere.
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The borough shortly thereafter enacted a series of ordinances to prevent deja vu.
Their crackdown on the party atmosphere along with police resulted in a 300% increase in violations.
It also cleaned things up and restored order.
In November 2020, the majority of voters at the polls said yes to legalizing recreational pot but many raised concerns afterwards with the fine print unbeknownst perhaps to many voters that this vote combined with the laws enacted in early 2021 by Governor Murphy made anyone under 21 a minor, it prevented parents from being notified by police if their underage child was found with marijuana (later revised and now allowed) and that's if police even found it as the Murphy law prevented police from even investigating such an incident.
All the work done in PPB and other towns across Ocean and Monmouth County as well as the entire Jersey Shore to prevent drug use and party atmospheres became infinitely more complicated sending municipalities back to the drawing board to find ways to prevent unruly behavior in this new reality while leaving police figuratively, metaphorically handcuffed or face criminal charges under the new law signed by Murphy.
"When Governor Murphy’s new laws threaten police with serious criminal charges and jail time if they make a single misstep when dealing with a minor, it’s no wonder officers are saying they feel handcuffed and can do little more but watch the mayhem," State Senator Anthony Bucco (R) said.
One instance of things getting out of control under the new law was in Long Branch just last month when thousands flocked to Pier Village and police coming in to get the situation under control leading to 4 arrests.
So what could be done?
A number of Jersey Shore and other lawmakers across the state have been continuing to try and restore order to society and immunity and protection back to police to allow them to do their jobs in providing safety for the community.
Right after the incident in Long Branch, Ocean/Monmouth County State Senator Robert Singer (R) and Essex/Morris County State Senator Joe Pennacchio (R) introduced legislation in June to prevent any more mass gatherings like that and crack down on violators by broadening the legal definition of riot, increasing penalties against people committing crimes during such a period of unruliness, combatting cyber intimidation and protecting police during those instances among other pushes for change.
Democratic State Senator Nia Gill introduced a bill in May of 2021 which seeks to remove protection and immunity from police, which led to 10th District Ocean County Senator Jim Holzapfel (R) and Assemblymen Greg McGuckin (R) and John Catalano (R) to challenging that effort.
"I think there's clearly a nationwide agenda by certain individuals and certain organizations to essentially strip police officers of any protection in the hopes that policing as we know it today will come to an end," McGuckin told Townsquare Media News at the time.
Morris County State Senator Anthony Bucco (R) and Monmouth County State Senator Declan O'Scanlon (R) have also been at the forefront of pushing for change to provide protection for police and in turn for the communities in the state.
“The police are going to be punished for doing their jobs. This is an attack on law enforcement that places the police in a position if they make even the slightest mistake when dealing with under-age possession charges that they are a third degree felon,” O’Scanlon said in a statement back in March.
Even now, Senator Bucco believes all that's gone on in the last few months with all these changes in law/policy has led to teenagers "causing mayhem up and down the Jersey Shore this summer", adding that the restrictions put in place by Governor Murphy prevent police from taking action to keep communities safe.
“From Monmouth to Cape May, we’ve seen what happens when you strip police of the power to hold teenagers and young adults accountable for breaking the law,” Senator Bucco said in a statement this month. “Kids have no fear of smoking pot, drinking, or breaking other laws in public when they know police can do little more than issue toothless warnings. It’s only going to get worse as more kids realize that Governor Murphy has given them a free pass until they turn 21. When Governor Murphy’s new laws threaten police with serious criminal charges and jail time if they make a single misstep when dealing with a minor, it’s no wonder officers are saying they feel handcuffed and can do little more but watch the mayhem. Well, there’s something the Legislature can and must do to remedy this.”
Will change come? Will it happen under Governor Murphy in restoring Law and Order, allowing police to do their jobs without restrictions?
Local government leaders, police and community leaders at the Jersey Shore have made push after push for change, hoping that one day soon the damage done will be a learning lesson along the way to restoring immunity, protection and security for police and allow them to protect us.