By DUSTIN RACIOPPI
Following increases in disorderly behavior and outright violence at the Kaboom Fireworks in recent years, Red Bank police plan to boost enforcement, while elected officials are calling for maximum penalties for miscreants.
Police Chief Steve McCarthy, right, tells redbankgreen that a bolstered police presence will be on hand for this year’s July 3 festivities, with officers checking coolers for contraband alcohol as thousands of celebrants enter the borough’s riverside parks.
Cops will also crack down on open containers and be on the lookout for booze disguised as soft drinks, he said.
The entire 39-member force will work that day, and a larger number of cops from surrounding towns will the supplement the security presence than were on the scene last year.
“We have a considerable amount of police officers coming in to help us out,” McCarthty said.
With more police covering a large area where tens of thousands jam into the downtown to witness the night-sky spectacle, McCarthy said he hopes visitors will take notice that bad behavior is going to be handled quickly, and make troublemakers think twice.
Police will be on the lookout for potential sparks of violence, he said. The department will especially take a proactive approach toward anybody drinking during the event.
“It’s really no different from any other day if someone was walking down the street drinking a beer in public,” he said. “If we see an issue, we’re going to address it.
“We want to be very clear and just put everybody on notice, this is what we expect,” he said. “Listen, we just want to keep this a family event.”
Last week, the borough council passed a “zero tolerance” resolution, recommending the stiffest penalty or penalties possible for violators.
“This is basically advising that we will try not to tolerate any behavior this is anti-social,” said Mayor Pasquale Menna.
Fines for such behavior, he said, could reach $2,5000.
“Whatever they are, they will be the max,” Menna said.
But while the council is seeking maximum fines, the court system still has the final say, McCarthy notes.
“We can always make a recommendation. We can always let our position be known,” he said. “And that’s really what we’re doing. We would hope that our recommendation be heard, but in the end it’s up to (the judge).”