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N. Wildwood Residents Cite ‘Violent Attacks,’ Seek Solutions

North Wildwood Seawall

By Rebecca Fox

NORTH WILDWOOD – Concerns were brought to North Wildwood officials’ attention, during the July 20 City Council meeting, regarding ongoing “criminal behavior.”
Several citizens shared stories and frustrations about what they said were “violent attacks” happening in the city. 
Family members of a July 4 assault victim expressed a need for a resolution to not only solve the hardships they had been dealing with the past couple of weeks, but to better serve the community.
The family expressed feelings of extreme danger, wanting to know what is being done to protect the community. 
“We have big problems,” said Monica Rivera, resident and family member of the victim.
Many citizens expressed curiosity as to why no one had been arrested in the July 4 incident. The victim’s family members said they know who the culprits are, but no one was charged yet. 
“I can’t tell you what this has been like,” the juvenile victim’s mother said. “Secure this community.”
Several other community members shared their experiences with what they called “the same people” going around and playing games of “knock out,” where many juveniles become violent and assault others until they are presumed to be unconscious, including an incident on the Boardwalk with another man’s son. Witnesses said the attacks looked to be “seven on one” at times.
In response, Mayor Patrick Rosenello explained the difficulty of a resolution, when it comes to theattacks due to those involved being juveniles. 
The city solicitor provided the phone number to the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office of Victim Witness Advocacy, which can be reached at 609-465-1135, ext. 3443.
Rosenello expressed that they (the city) are aware of the issue, but it becomes a problem with confidentiality since the participants are underage. 
He also noted that North Wildwood has an extremely concentrated police presence, and with recently passed state laws, young adults have become what he referred to as “supercitizens” because police now face obstacles intervening when it comes to drugs and alcohol with minors.
“We knew this was coming,” Rosenello said. 
Police Chief John Stevenson also spoke to ease some minds, noting that the police need to do a better job, but they are still working hard and long hours to keep the community safe. 
“We’re not your enemy,” he said. 
Some proposed resolutions to the issue were holding parents accountable and implementing more community watch groups. 
This issue is not particular to North Wildwood, as cases have been reported across several of the island communities, as well. 
In Avalon, Mayor Martin Pagliughi enforced a citywide curfew to prevent incidents of individuals taking part in unsafe behavior, specifically, reports of large crowds of teenagers on bikes disrupting traffic, among others. 
The executive order restricts access to the town’s boardwalk and beaches, from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m.
As municipalities work to resolve these issues, members of the community can contact the North Wildwood Police Department, at 609-522-2411, and the Avalon Police Department, at 609-967-3411.

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