After rowdy crowds of teenagers overran Ocean City on Memorial Day weekend, the seaside city’s longtime mayor laid the blame squarely on state lawmakers.
As the state has trended toward leniency for juvenile scofflaws in recent years, Mayor Jay Gillian said the beach and boardwalk have been increasingly besieged by youthful mobs flaunting their underage drinking and drug use.
In an announcement of new curfews and a backpack ban for the Cape May County town, Gillian groused to Gov. Phil Murphy and lawmakers that “the laws they forced on all municipalities are a threat to public safety, and they deprive families of the opportunity to enjoy the Jersey Shore.”
Ocean City is the most recent place where police and municipal officials have struggled to balance state-mandated juvenile justice changes with damage control stemming from carousing kids.
“It’s a developing and evolving issue — we’re definitely hearing about this more with the warmer weather and young people going to these pop-up parties,” said Mike Cerra, executive director of the New Jersey State League of Municipalities. “There has to be an honest assessment of whether there have been some unintended consequences from the laws and how do we address that without undermining the intent.”
A spokeswoman for Gov. Phil Murphy said he understands that large-scale youth gatherings have raised public safety concerns in recent years.
“In order to ensure that the safe…