Ocean City taking action to protect public after teen violence over Memorial Day weekend

The unofficial start of summer was marred with fear and panic for families hoping to enjoy a fun weekend at the beach, and now officials are making sure that doesn't happen again.

Chaos ensued on the Ocean City boardwalk over the Memorial Day weekend when several fights erupted among large crowds of juveniles.

Police in Ocean City say officer staffing or curfews were not the main issues over chaotic Memorial Day weekend. Instead, local, county and state officials gathered on Music Pier Thursday afternoon to push for changes in New Jersey laws that limit how police deal with teenagers.

"The incidents this Memorial Day weekend were unacceptable" said Ocean City Mayor Jay Gillian.

The press conference came after the Saturday night stabbing of a 15-year-old boy on the boardwalk. . Luckily,he was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.


Teen stabbed, arrests made as teen crowds cause chaos on Ocean City boardwalk: officials

A night on the boardwalk took a violent turn when police say a 15-year-old boy became the victim of a stabbing in one of several incidents that kicked off Memorial Day weekend.

However, the stabbing caused mass mayhem on the boardwalk as crowds of people ran for safety from the boardwalk.

Shoplifting, fights and disorderly conduct continued throughout the weekend, resulting in multiple arrests.


"You are here standing in America’s greatest family resort, one of the best beaches in this country and that’s what we should be talking about a week after Memorial Day all the people that were here and had a good time. Instead we are talking about people who did some bad things" said Assemblyman Antwan McClelland (R) of Ocean City.

Ocean City Police say they gave out 1300 warnings to teenagers over Memorial Day weekend. Of the 24 arrests made, all were adults.  Police say the main problem is with New Jersey's juvenile justice rules passed a few years ago that limit how police can interact with teenagers using alcohol or marijuana.

"Give law enforcement gives us the advantage that over the past 3 or 4 years, I think, in totality, we have lost ground somewhat" said Ocean City Police Chief Bill Campbell.

He says officers can’t even ask for identification when they give out warnings to teens so many times police are given phony names. In recent years officials have closed the beach earlier, instituted a teenage curfew and backpack ban but they say that’s not enough. They are trying to persuade Trenton lawmakers to push for tougher consequences.

"Help give the police some more protection. Help give police the tools they need. Unfortunately, what the Attorney General did at the time is put the handcuffs on the police officers" said Cape May County Commissioner Len Desiderio. 

Some parents strolling the boardwalk Thursday afternoon say recent events on the boardwalk has changed their summertime routine.

"I wouldn't let my children on the boardwalk by themselves right now with what’s going on" said Rachel Winterstine, a mother of 2 teenagers from Oley, PA. 

She says some of the responsibility of summertime rowdy teen behavior starts at home.

"I feel like the parents need to step it up. I think there are a lot of parents that don’t pay attention and they need to parent and stop being friends to their children" Winterstine added.

Next week Ocean City will get a little help when more than 20 seasonal (Part II) officers will begin patrolling the streets and boardwalk for the remainder of the summer.

Ocean City wasn't the only Jersey Shore town to experience chaos during the holiday weekend. Wildwood temporarily declared a state of emergency when large crowds of "unruly" juveniles overwhelmed the police department.