WILDWOOD — Municipal officials in this resort city are firing back at the state's top law enforcement official, who seemingly blamed the local government for a raucous Memorial Day weekend.

Authorities here were forced to declare a local state of emergency to close the boardwalk after unruly teens descended on the Shore community and flouted the city's 10 p.m. curfew.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, state Attorney General Matthew Platkin blamed the municipality for not employing enough police officers to handle crowds during the busy summer season.

“I don't think we had enough law enforcement officers out in Wildwood last weekend, and we're working to correct that,” he said.

Boardwalks Rowdy Teens
Seaside Heights Police Chief Thomas Boyd, left, speaks with New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin on the boardwalk in Seaside Heights, N.J., Friday, May 31, 2024 shortly before Platkin blamed the city of Wildwood, N.J., for not assigning enough police officers to patrol its boardwalk over the Memorial Day weekend when crowds of rowdy teens and young adults overwhelmed the city's capability to respond to disturbances, forcing the boardwalk to be shut down overnight on Sunday, May 26. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

The Democrat's comments came three days after Republican Mayor Ernie Troiano told New Jersey 101.5 morning host Bill Spadea that it's been difficult to hire cops.

“Normally we get 30 to 50 class two officers to come in for the summertime, as do other communities. We have nine this year. Nobody wants to be a police officer because there's no law to protect the police officer when he's doing his job. If he can even do his job anymore. So it's becoming an issue of enforcement," Troiano said.

On Saturday, city officials called Platkin's remarks "inaccurate and ill-informed."

"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, the city said in a long statement posted online. "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."

Wildwood officials said "the boardwalk was staffed with more uniformed police officers this year – over 30 – than that of the two previous years."

But city officials also had to call upon the Cape May County Sheriff’s Department to bring in another 10 or so additional officers after authorities determined that the situation was getting out of hand. The outside officers are part of a shared-services agreement the city enacted last year.

"The disheartening truth of the situation is the crowds we encountered this year were disobedient, volatile, and aggressive towards officers," the city said this weekend in response to Platkin's comments.

"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."

Local municipal and police officials across the state have been blaming juvenile justice and marijuana reforms that they say hamper the ability of police to maintain order and encourage juveniles to consume alcohol or marijuana in public with impunity.

NJ schools that made the most calls to police

These are the 30 schools in New Jersey that made the most notifications to police during the 2022-23 school year for reasons including violence, weapons, vandalism, substances and harassment or bullying. The number of arrests made by police at the schools is also provided when applicable. The schools are listed by number of police calls from least to greatest. The data comes from the state Department of Education's annual School Performance Report.

Gallery Credit: New Jersey 101.5

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