Saturday, June 1, 2024

City of Wildwood Police Department Response to Erroneous Statements by Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin


CITY OF WILDWOODThe City of Wildwood Police Department and Chief Joseph Murphy have been made aware of an inaccurate and ill-informed statement made by New Jersey Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin to numerous media sources. In his statement, the Attorney General reported that the City of Wildwood did not have sufficient police staffing on our world-famous boardwalk for Memorial Day weekend.

This statement would lead the public to believe that police staffing was the cause of the issues the City of Wildwood experienced this past holiday weekend. We were alarmed at such a statement from the chief law enforcement officer in the State of New Jersey especially knowing that he did not directly contact us to understand what resources were in place for the weekend.

If an effort were made by the Attorney General to understand the situation in Wildwood, he would have been advised that the police department had in excess of forty (40) law enforcement officers assigned to our boardwalk on Sunday night of Memorial Day weekend alone - when the local state of emergency was declared.

The City of Wildwood Police Department would like to assure the public that the boardwalk was staffed with more uniformed police officers this year – over 30 – than that of the two previous years. The staffing levels of law enforcement for our boardwalk is developed after thoughtful analysis: examining of the previous year’s staffing posture, holiday weekends, special events, and current situational intelligence.
Through this process we assessed that additional uniformed law enforcement personnel were needed for the 2024 Memorial Day weekend. Several months ago, we initiated a Shared Service Agreement with the Cape May County Sheriff’s Department to ensure those additional uniformed law enforcement personnel would be available to the City of Wildwood.

The additional staffing from the Cape May County Sheriff’s Department allowed us to place our staffing levels above thirty (30) uniformed officers on the boardwalk for the 2024 Memorial Day weekend. The disheartening truth of the situation is the crowds we encountered this year were disobedient, volatile, and aggressive towards officers. At one point, our officers had firecrackers thrown at them while they were conducting crowd control measures.

We even observed families fleeing the boardwalk to the beach and running for the security of the railing because hundreds of juveniles and young adults were stampeding down the boardwalk. Even if we had additional officers above the thirty (30) deployed, there would have been minimal effect to quell this type of mob behavior.

After Saturday’s public safety concerns, we were forced to modify our public safety plan to include the ability to declare the local state of emergency, thus giving us the authority to close the boardwalk temporarily and to stop the crowds from creating another public safety issue. Within the modification of the public safety plan, we also requested additional law enforcement officers from Cape May County law enforcement partners. These additional officers were deployed to the boardwalk on Sunday night, therefore, giving us in excess of forty (40) law enforcement officers.

After the 10:00 PM curfew our officers cleared the boardwalk of all juveniles issuing several thousand curb side warnings in accordance with the New Jersey Attorney General’s Directive 2020-12. Despite the enforcement of the juvenile curfew, a couple thousand of young adults remained on the boardwalk. Despite all efforts to maintain law and order, at 12:13 AM the City still began to reach a level of public safety concern. It was at this time that we determined that the local state of emergency declaration needed to be implemented.

With the execution of this declaration, we were able to quell a majority of the disorder on the boardwalk and the immediate street areas quickly and efficiently. Although this policing measure may seem extreme, this is the only course of action we have been left with to address these unruly and aggressive crowds of juveniles and young adults.

Through the course of the Memorial Day weekend the Wildwood Police Department handled three hundred and twelve (312) 9-1-1 calls, officers responded to one thousand five hundred and seventeen (1,517) calls for service, issued thousands of curb side warnings to juveniles, and we made forty-seven (47) arrests with more pending upon identification.

Chief Murphy would like to commend the men and women of the Wildwood Police Department along with the other law enforcement agencies in their performance this past Memorial Day weekend. Despite the difficult environment they are forced to police in, without hesitation, they placed themselves on the front lines to maintain law and order.
We were fortunate to only have one officer injured during the weekend, and he should make a full recovery.
We will continue to place public safety as the top priority for our department as we move into the summer season.

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