How you can help police make it a safe summer across the Jersey Shore
You are encouraged to have as much fun as possible this summer at the Jersey Shore but are reminded that there rules to follow for everyone's health and safety on the beach, boardwalk, on the roads and wherever you may roam.
Distracted Driving and Speeding:
A fun day may just be a drive away but doing 10 or 20 mph over the speed limit or talking on the phone and texting while behind the wheel are big time no-no's and police will we watching so nothing terrible happens as a result of poor decision making this summer.
In Howell, Police Chief Andrew Kudrick, who is also the President of the Monmouth County Chiefs of Police Association in 2021, says they do have officers out there but not for the purpose of writing tickets at motor vehicle stops, which he adds they do 24-percent of the time, but to remind motorists to watch their speeds and make sure people are safe.
"Our officers are out there but we're not looking to write tickets, we're looking to educate and slow people down," Kudrick said.
If you see someone swerving or driving at excessive and dangerous speeds, Chief Kudrick says call 9-1-1.
"Somebody that's driving erratically like that is a threat to other motorists on the road and that is an emergency, so we absolutely do encourage people to call 9-1-1. We would want that person to stay on the line with our telecommunicators, that's the easiest way for us to apprehend that person a lot quicker if we know the direction of travel, where they're going and where they're passing. We take that very seriously, we absolutely dispatch officers right away to intercept that person," Chief Kudrick said. "It could be just an inexperience driver or it could be an impaired driver, both are significant risks to others out there on the road."
Whether you're behind the wheel or trying to cross the street, there are rules for both situations that need to be followed to prevent any kind of accidents.
"We want to encourage people to use crosswalks, don't be running out into traffic. Bicyclists, you have to use the same rules of the road as a driver does so you can't be going against traffic and you can't be going out into oncoming lanes like a pedestrian just walking out into the street and bike out in front of a car, you have to obey the laws of the road," Point Pleasant Beach Police Chief Joseph Michigan, who is also President of the Ocean County Chiefs of Police Association, said.
There are specific rules for pedestrians and for drivers, both must follow what the traffic signal is indicating and stay within the proper paths on the road.
"If you're a pedestrian and you're walking into a crosswalk, the vehicle has to stop and let you cross. Now, if the vehicle is doing 35 mph and you're running out into the crosswalk, you can't expect that car to stop on a dime for a person," Chief Michigan said. "We have controlled crosswalks here, especially in the center of town along Arnold Avenue, where all the traffic lights will go red so no vehicles will be allowed to go anywhere and all the pedestrians will be allowed to cross."
Quality of Life:
It's okay to have fun and a good time but there's a line in the sand for what will be tolerated and certainly allowed under the law because there is no tolerance for any kind of unruly behavior of any kind.
"We want the families to come down here to Point Pleasant Beach, we want you guys to have an enjoyable and safe time while you're here but we heavily enforce quality of life issues, so no littering, no urinating in peoples bushes after a night of drinking...we're not going to tolerate any of that," Chief Michigan said.
While recreational marijuana is on its way to being a reality in New Jersey, that doesn't mean you could smoke it with reckless abandon, drive under the influence or try having an unauthorized party on the beach, all concerns among others for police at the Jersey Shore.
"The public needs to be aware that it's not legal yet. It's going to be and we're developing policies to deal with that but right now the state guidance is dismal," Chief Kudrick said.
Even when it is legal and regulated, there are still rules for where you can and can't smoke weed.
"You cannot smoke anything on the boardwalk, that means you can't smoke a cigarette, you can't vape and now you can't smoke marijuana and if you are, you'll be approached by one of my officers and directed off the boardwalk or to put out whatever you're smoking," Chief Michigan said.
With the recreational marijuana law signed by Governor Murphy subjecting police officers to possible 3rd degree crimes and lawsuits for depravation of civil rights if they investigating the underage use of marijuana or alcohol.
The law and similar legislation like it also removes immunity for law enforcement and so police are working on plans about how to handle certain situations regarding marijuana or alcohol.
"Here in Howell, and I know a lot of the other towns here in Monmouth County, we've put a pause on the enforcement because the guidance (from the state) is so vague and also confusing coming from the state that I'm not going to allow and neither are the Monmouth County (Police) Chiefs to be put in a situation where they could be held criminally or civilly liable for minor marijuana. It's not going to happen," Chief Kudrick said. "If they (the state) basically want a hands-off approach by putting a law that's so vague and restrictive on us, then we're going to take precautions on our end to make sure we protect our officers as well."
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Covid Rules, Executive Orders:
Even though Covid metrics in New Jersey are heading in a healthier direction and the CDC has updated guidance to where fully vaccinated people don't have to wear a mask, you still have to do so indoors in New Jersey.
It's something police are aware of as well but unless it's a large incident, officers enforcing mask mandates may not be taking place.
"As far as enforcing mask mandates, that is going to be on individual chiefs but I can tell you that is not on the top or anywhere near my priority level here," Chief Kudrick said. "We feel that our community is very responsible, we feel that our businesses are responsible and we basically put that enforcement on the businesses themselves instead of getting us involved in that. I know my fellow chiefs around the county are doing the same. We're not going in and disrupting businesses, we're not disrupting people's parties but if it becomes egregious and if we see a bar or somebody's having a party that we feel is dangerous to the attendees there, then we may step-in on something like that."