Could fixing this law eliminate or cut down on NJ pop-up parties?
As the Jersey shore gets ready for the influx of people this Memorial Day weekend, police must be prepared for what could be an even bigger crowd. Last Saturday's pop-up party, planned on social media, brought 5000 people to Long Branch and resulted in 15 arrests for fighting and vandalizing.
How can they stop this from happening again? There are calls for Gov. Murphy to get involved. He's expressed concern. but offered no solution. Long Branch Mayor John Pallone, whose town could be facing a second pop-up party, is considering legal action. Some want to sue social media outlets.
The police say they will be monitoring and be prepared but what can they really do when the current law puts them at the risk of going to jail for busting underage kids for weed? Perhaps if that law were changed or amended, it could dissuade minors from bringing their weed to the shore.
NJSPBA President Pat Colligan, who came on my show when the new law first went through to explain:
"You have officers still facing a third-degree charge now if the juvenile gets injured during our investigation. We get charged with a second-degree charge, so there's a presumption for a third-degree charge of four years in prison. Eight to 10 years for a second-degree charge, so unfortunately what they've effectively done is make sure that we don't even look at somebody under 21 years of age either smoking marijuana or drinking."
I asked Colligan Monday via text if changing the law could have an effect on the pop-up parties and if he had spoken to the Attorney General.
"I think this was a coordinated social media event and not as much a local marijuana issue. As far as the Attorney General, this is a relatively new law enforcement issue.
"We are adjusting to these new crime trends, I think the answer is enhanced social media monitoring and working in conjunction with other LE agencies (NJ Transit Police & NJSP) to enhance our intelligence. We have to preempt these and be prepared rather than be reactionary. But once again, our officers did an extraordinary job and used great restraint despite a disgraceful and disrespectful crowd."
Senator Declan O Scanlon, R-Monmouth, who represents the 13th Legislative District, came on my show Monday night to discuss the possibility and also spoke to me via text.
"I think our elimination of the 'intent' requirement when charging cops with deprivation of civil rights has many cops hesitant to approach you people using marijuana. The invite to the event openly suggested people “bring their own weed”. So we should fix that. Whether one agrees with the legalization or not…rampant, open public use isn’t something we should be promoting."
"Other than that…coming up with effective ways to monitor social media sites that promote such events can help us get out ahead of them and anticipate where we should deploy additional law enforcement resources. Lastly, in general, we have to work to rebalance society’s outlook on, and respect for, our police and our communities. Blatant disregard for the direction of police and blatant disrespect for communities in which we live, or where we gather…is a societal problem that we must work to rectify"
I also reached out to Sen. Jon Bramnick, R-Union, who represents the 21st Legislative District asking if amending the law could cut down on the pop-ups?
"No, because they started before the law was enacted, More arrests for disorderly conduct and State Troopers".
I also ran a Twitter poll to that effect:
Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise only. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.
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