Perth Amboy mayor backs cops in bicycle confiscation, arrest on video
PERTH AMBOY — The city's newly elected mayor came out in support of police in the face of public outcry over video showing officers confiscating bicycles and arresting a teen.
Two video clips went viral on Tuesday showing officers chastising the teens for not having bicycle licenses and registrations.
The incident is now under review by Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone’s office. Mayor Helmin J. Caba, who also serves as the director of police, has requested a full review of the incident.
Caba said that the bicyclists rode through the city in an "unsafe and reckless manner" causing motorists to stop or swerve away from the group. Police stopped the group and an auxiliary police supervisor asked them to ride safely. He reminded them of the local law requiring bicycles to be registered and to display a tag.
"The videos depict the interaction as professional and cordial," Caba said. "The supervisor clearly stated he only wished to speak with the riders and police had no intentions of confiscating bikes from the riders. His actions were commendable and de-escalated any tensions that existed during the traffic stop."
A longer video clip shows the teens weaving through traffic . At one point, some of the cyclists are riding along a double yellow line trying to touch cars passing in the opposite direction.
"At one point during the interaction with riders, additional officers responded to where our auxiliary team was. The video depicts a police sergeant speaking with the riders whom she had previously verbally warned outside of the auxiliary team’s knowledge," Caba said.
The longer video shows all the bikes being taken by police in a department pickup truck.
One teen was taken into custody on a charge of disorderly conduct and later released to their guardian with their bicycle, according to Caba.
Caba said that Perth Amboy has a large and active auxiliary unit comprising diverse volunteers.
"As with our full time police force, auxiliary officers reflect the demographic make-up of our wonderfully diverse city. More than 60% of our officers are women and people of color with many speaking multiple languages," Caba said.
Caba said the city will engage more with the bicycling community to offer safety tips and the rules of the road.
Elsewhere in the state, three teens on the Ocean City boardwalk were arrested on Saturday on charges of assaulting several girls. City Council President Bobby Barr wrote in a post on an Ocean City Facebook group that there has been an increase in "bike gangs" that forced families off the boardwalk and stores to close while a girl was hospitalized after a confrontation, according to the Patch.