Summer leads to more direct interactions with the residents we serve. The nice weather and longer daylight hours result in more people being active in their local communities. And now social media inspired pop-up parties have been causing additional new challenges for local communities and the law enforcement officers who serve to keep these communities safe.
These pop-up parties that are advertised on social media sites such as TikTok tell partygoers to bring their own liquor and party supplies to a designated location. It does not take a genius to recognize the potential negative impact these unsponsored parties cause: crowd control, potential riots, fights, and threats against law enforcement officers.
Two recent large pop-up parties — May 21 and June 19 — impacted the entire Long Branch community. Both events resulted in thousands of people arriving by train and descending on the Pier Village area. The late May event resulted in New Jersey Transit hysteria, vandalism and fights, and at least 15 arrests.
One Long Branch resident told CBS News that “It ain’t a pop-up party. These are riots.”
At the request of State Senator Vin Gopal, New Jersey provided Long Branch with $500,000 in state aid within the recently passed state budget to help prevent these events in the future and also help pay for costs resulting from the past events. Officials in some Shore towns have even implemented teen curfews and sought action in the courts for relief and to prevent pop-up party promoters from targeting their communities.
And these challenges to law enforcement are not exclusive to Shore towns. In Wayne, NJ State Police warned local authorities about a pop-up party advertised on social media. Party promoters planned a pop-up event for an abandoned building near Willowbrook Mall.
But law enforcement officers were waiting to greet partygoers. Police ended up detaining 47 people, and many were being charged with various violations of trespass, criminal mischief and burglary.
And the threat of additional violence is always present. In Coney Island earlier in July, a pop-up party was the scene of five people being injured in a shooting incident.
So enjoy the remaining weeks of summer. The nicer weather allows for more time outdoors with friends and family.
But remember increased interactions with residents and visitors cause additional challenges and safety concerns for law enforcement. Be mindful of the fact that mobile phone cameras are everywhere, and anyone can post videos online that can be easily manipulated to distort our public safety efforts in an effort to cast them in an unfavorable light.
Finally, and I cannot say it enough, please continue to take every moment of every shift seriously and always look out for each other. There is nothing more important than making it home to your family and friends each day.