Ocean City says a Grewal directive is making it hard to police local teens

OCEAN CITY, N.J. – One of New Jersey’s iconic beach communities says a state attorney general directive is making policing unruly teenagers more challenging.

“The Mayor’s Office and Ocean City Police Department have been working together to address issues related to large groups of young teenagers causing problems in Ocean City,” the city announced on Monday following reports of large groups of young teens on bicycles creating dangerous situations on the streets and the legendary boardwalk. “Towns throughout the state have been dealing with the same concerns.”

“The city has also received many calls and emails related to an assault involving female juveniles on Saturday, April 17,” the local government release continues. “Many of the calls appear to stem from incomplete and inaccurate accounts of the incident shared on social media. Three suspects were immediately taken into custody, and the case is being handled to the fullest extent allowed within the law. The public should be aware that a new Attorney General’s Directive on Juvenile Justice Reform limits the enforcement actions that may be taken in these situations. Mayor Gillian has spoken with the victim’s mother and will continue to be in touch with the family.”

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal issued the directive in question back on December 3, 2020. Among other limitations, the directive tells local law enforcement to issue “curbside warnings” in most cases where behavior is disruptive or even dangerous. Grewal’s guidance is separate from the recent legislation signed by Governor Murphy that barred officers from informing parents when a minor was caught consuming or possessing alcohol or marijuana.

Ocean City says it’s taking actions to address the situation including bringing on seasonal officers, cracking down on “threatening” bicycle riding, and issuing ordinances to parents and guardians who fail to properly supervise juveniles. 

“As always, public safety will be the No. 1 priority for the entire city team,” said Mayor Jay Gillian.

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