⚫ A hearing was held in response to a chaotic Memorial Day Weekend at the shore

⚫ Officials say teens have no respect for authority

⚫ They blame rules that handcuff police, as well as parents

Just this Monday night, two weeks removed from the holiday weekend, authorities in Wildwood had to respond to a rental property that had countless minors crammed inside, drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana.

And when the crackdown occurred, the partiers were unfazed.

"They're just so brazen, it's hard to comprehend," said Wildwood Mayor Ernie Troiano.

Summer hasn't officially launched, and officials along the shore have already had enough with unruly teenagers.

Safety concerns along the coast were the focus of an online hearing on Wednesday, run by Sen. Michael Testa, R-Cumberland. The hearing was prompted by a series of issues in multiple shore towns over Memorial Day Weekend.

"Perception can become reality," Testa said. "We do know that our towns are, in fact, safe, but there's a perception that they're becoming increasingly unsafe."

State Sen. Michael Testa, R-Cumberland (top left) hosts a virtual hearing about safety concerns in shore towns. (Facebook screenshot)
State Sen. Michael Testa, R-Cumberland (top left) hosts a virtual hearing about safety concerns in shore towns. (Facebook screenshot)

Over the holiday weekend, a 15-year-old was stabbed in Ocean City, as officials in Seaside Heights dealt with the panic caused by false claims of a shooter. Wildwood was forced to declare a state of emergency because the city didn't have enough manpower to respond to all the calls for help.

Who's to blame?

"The problem is, we have juveniles who believe that they can't get in trouble for anything they do wrong," said Ocean City Councilman Jody Levchuk. "There is a major youth issue."

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Levchuk, along with a number of officials who made comments during the virtual hearing, said the uptick in uncontrollable behavior has coincided with rules put in place in 2020 by Gov. Phil Murphy's administration that hamstring law enforcement's ability to discipline teens.

In essence, the rules scrap fines for juvenile offenders and suggest that locking up a minor should be a last resort. Warnings and stationhouse adjustments are favored over putting an offense on one's record.

Levchuk said the Jersey Shore should be seen as a place for one to let loose, but actions such as shoplifting are unacceptable.

"Several years ago, 80% would cry if they got caught. Today, they laugh," Levchuk said.

New Jersey 101.5 has reached out to Gov. Murphy's office for a response to the remarks made during the hearing.

Officials also placed blame on the parents of the teens who are openly breaking laws — many are unaware of their child's whereabouts, and/or also seem unaffected by a law enforcement response.

"Parents need to equip their children with how to behave properly," Levchuk said. "They need to explain to them that there are consequences to their actions. Now, they may not be legal consequences ... here in New Jersey, but there absolutely should be consequences at home."

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