Toms River, NJ Police Chief wants you to say something if you see something this summer
Everyone wants to have a fun summer over the next few months, whether it's an unplug following two-years of a pandemic, work fatigue, unplugging from the daily responsibilities or something else, or just the desire to go places, visit people, and enjoy all Toms River, the Jersey Shore and beyond have to offer.
When you're in Toms River this summer, on the mainland or in Ortley Beach or nearby sections, it's important to be safe, responsible, and respectful while you're having fun and vigilant as well in the event something happens that requires you to help out in some way as a witness or providing help, aid to someone in need.
If we're all there for each other, it'll be a fantastic, safe, and healthy summer.
There are a few things to be aware of though as we head into the summer months in Toms River.
On Sunday, Toms River Police Chief Mitch Little was a guest on 'Shore Time with Vin and Dave' on 94.3 The Point & 105.7 The Hawk -- which is on every Sunday from 6-8 am -- discussing some summer safety tips and more.
Drinking and Driving, Driving while intoxicated, Driving under the influence of drugs.
Someone choosing to get behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including the newly legal recreational drug -- marijuana -- is never okay or safe for you or anyone else.
It's imperative to stay sober this summer.
"We're concerned with any kind of driving under the influence, whether it be marijuana, alcohol, prescription drugs -- anything that alters your behavior, we are very concerned about," Chief Little tells Townsquare Media.
The influence of alcohol and drugs on public behavior in the summer.
Everyone wants to have fun and have a good time but you have to do so safely and responsibly wherever the gathering may be and don't let things get out of control.
"We just had an incident in Long Branch where they had over 5,000 people show up and it got into almost a riot situation because it was just a flash mob that came in and it got out of hand, so we have to make sure that doesn't happen," Chief Little said.
Rowdy, disruptive behavior on the beach, throughout town, and late at night in Toms River will not be tolerated.
If you're out or even at home having a good time this summer, just be mindful that there are other people around you, so treat everyone like you would like to be treated including those who are here in Toms River and Ocean County renting a home or vacationing this summer -- with kindness and respect.
"Everybody has to be respectful of other people's privacy too, they're not out here to just party, there are other things to do and that's where we get into a battle sometimes because we get people that come down and rent with their young kids and families and their goal is to have a nice house to stay in and walk to the beach and enjoy their day at the beach," Chief Little said. "Then we have other people who come in and want to be rowdy all night long until 2:00-3:00 in the morning and then those other people want us to put a curfew in. I said 'well, how can we lock up your kids at 9:00 o'clock at night when they're here for a vacation and to actually enjoy the beach?', and we do have a little problem on the north end with the Wawa where people hang out, normally, longer than they should and we get a lot of complaints up there."
One reason the police can't put a curfew in is that it would have to be a town-wide curfew, they can't just put it in for that one spot in town.
"Unless we do a curfew town-wide, which we're not about to do, the only other time we could do it is in a state of emergency," Chief Little said.
Under a state of emergency, like during the early days of the pandemic, that curfew could be put into effect to prevent large gatherings.
There has been an ongoing issue like the Chief mentioned on the northern end with teens and people hanging out longer than they should and causing disruption and in some cases loitering, littering, and taking turns with graffiti art.
"Normally, we have a certain amount of patrols -- it changes in the winter -- so, we have a police car at each end of the beach, we have a north end officer and a south end Ortley officer, but in the summertime, we definitely pad that, we add more officers, we have Class I officers, we have what we call a 'Power Squad' where we put other officers on the beach, we have quads, we have bicycle patrols, obviously roving patrols with police cars, and then we're putting on this 'Power Squad' to deal with those kinds of issues to give everybody a good quality of life," Chief Little said. "So, they are going to see a major presence over there this summer and with our first aid too, we're going to make sure we have a first aid station just on the beach so we don't have to worry about traffic getting over the bridge and any kind of delay, because, obviously, people's safety is our concern."
It's okay to have fun and have a good time but be respectful of others this summer in Toms River.
"We don't want to kill anybody's good time, we understand that people get together, people do like to drink -- just make sure you stay there and do it responsibly -- and as long as you're not invading someone else's privacy," Chief Little said. "We want to maintain our good relationship with our public and our kids. We have to have a good relationship with the kids, we can't be writing summonses to everybody that steps slightly out of line, we do give a lot of consideration to who we're dealing with, we understand that there are residents, we understand that tourism is very important to our community and we have to understand that those people who come in here are supporting us, they're spending money, they're enjoying our beaches and all our other amenities and we have to make sure that they stay respectful to each other -- respectful to us would be nice too -- and responsible."
Fireworks this summer in Toms River is better left to the professionals.
For many reasons, safety chief among them, it's better to leave the lighting and shooting off of fireworks to professionals who know how to properly handle them.
"Last 4th of July weekend, we handled over 1,000 calls just in a three-day period and over 200 were fireworks calls and those are just people that call in, there's a lot of people that understand what's going on but don't call," Chief Little said. "You have to remember that this is coming off of the spring where there still might be leaves in gutters and things like that, so these fireworks could be landing in people's yards."
The other reasons not to shoot off neighborhood fireworks are for dogs or other pets as well as people or military veterans suffering from PTSD who are in the area.
"Veterans could be suffering from PTSD, people from other occupations could be suffering from PTSD, we have kids with Autism in every community around here and we have to make sure that we're cognizant of not upsetting them either," Chief Little said. "Pets go crazy when they start hearing all these explosions going off. We understand that it's going to happen to a certain point, but normally after about 10:00 o'clock, it should quiet down."
If you or somebody is bothered or concerned about the fireworks being shot off in your vicinity, be it after 10:00 pm or just something you don't feel is safe, and discussions with the neighbors aren't going in a positive direction/towards a mutually agreeable solution, you can feel comfortable calling Toms River Police at 732-349-0150 extension 0 which will have you speaking with a police dispatcher.
Parking spots, parking lanes, trying to find parking in Toms River during the summer.
During the summer months, in just about any beach town, parking can be at a premium which can be frustrating, to say the least, but it doesn't mean you should be parking wherever you want, because, for one reason, it's a safety issue.
"When people are not parking correctly -- if they're blocking fire hydrants, if they're too close to a corner -- people will say 'what's the big deal, I'm just parking close to the corner?', but they don't understand that a firetruck needs all that room and that 25-foot distance to actually get around the corner to get in somewhere and if there's too much traffic or too many cars parked, double-parked or whatever, they're not going to get in to do what they need to do," Chief Little said. "Same thing with a first aid rig, they're wide, that box could be 8-10 feet wide and some of the streets especially over by the beach are extremely narrow."
Neighborhood Watch, Car Thefts, Vehicle Burglaries -- say something if you see something in Toms River this summer.
It's no secret that car thefts and vehicle burglaries have been occurring at a rampant pace all over the state of New Jersey.
The simple pieces of advice from police all over is to lock your car doors and bring your valuables inside the house, store, etc.
It's important that wherever you go, whatever you do this summer in Toms River, make sure you keep your eyes and ears out and look out for one another.
"Car thefts have been huge in this area and they're professionals, they know exactly what they're doing," Chief Little said. "We can't get the word out enough to lock your cars, just lock your cars. They understand that the high-end cars -- if it's not locked, the mirrors will not retract, and they stay out -- so when these people drive around and they see mirrors out on a high-end car, they understand it's not locked so they'll go inside -- and what else do people leave inside? Obviously, their personal belongings but they'll also leave their garage door remote in the car -- so they'll hit the garage door remote and get into the house, take the keys for the cars, and even steal them out of their own garage."