Police Prep for Memorial Day Weekend

Brawls and other disturbances have marred the holiday in Long Beach in recent years.

Long Beach, at leaset in recent years, has seen its share of disturbances and brawls on or around Memorial Day, and police plan to step up patrols and add manpower throughout the upcoming three-day holiday weekend.

“The department will be bringing in additional officers and supervisors to augment patrol,” said Sgt. Eric Cregeen, the Long Beach Police Department’s public information officer. “The officers will be involved in licensed premise checks, DWI patrol and quality of life enforcement. Additionally, there is a no-time-off policy being imposed for the entire weekend.”

Last year on Memorial Day, several fights erupted on the beach and in other areas in town after an estimated 1,000 youths from outside the Long Beach community arrived on the holiday. Charles Theofan, Long Beach’s former city manager, suspected that the brawls that day were planned by a group of about 50 mischief-makers from different communities — Roosevelt, Uniondale and Hempstead — who used Twitter or their cell phones to meet on the beach, starting after 3:30 p.m., knowing that at 6 p.m. lifeguards would be off duty.

“The vast majority of them were good kids and law-abiding citizens who wanted to have some fun on the beach, but unfortunately there were a small minority of jerks who saw it as an occasion to fight,” Theofan said. “From 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., there was one incident after another. It was very scary.”

That day, Patch witnessed a brawl on the beach at Riverside beach at about 5:45 p.m. Within about a minute, lifeguards were on the scene to break up the fight, followed soon after by Long Beach police.

Many of the troublemakers blocked bike lanes on the boardwalk and those who were arriving clashed with some who wanted to leave the beach, as few MTA buses were available to transport the many beach-goers out of the area.

Theofan said that by the time police arrived at the scenes of the fights, they were already broken up and no one was arrested, but if police — including backups from Nassau County and MTA — hadn’t responded so swiftly, a major riot was possible.

At Tuesday’s budget hearing at City Hall, Commissioner Michael Tangney, while he answered quesitons about police overtime, told the City Council that Memorial Day weekend, along with Irish Day in October, is among the days when overtime is used most.

“On Memorial Day weekend, we’ll incur probably about 80 man hours of overtime between the special events we have, the influx of the beach crowds, the opening of the beach season, the West End bars, this holiday weekend being three days,” Tangney said. “And we are anticipating a large group, as we’ve had the last three years, on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend that we must be prepared for.”

On the Friday before Memorial Day in 2009, some 10 Nassau County police cars and a helicopter were called to Long Beach that afternoon to help local police control and disperse a crowd of more than 1,000 high school-age students on Riverside, Edwards and National beaches, some of whom reportedly got into fistfights with one another.

Due to the large number of youths who were there on a day when lifeguards were not yet on duty, police thought it best to close the beach, police said. According to Paul Gillespie, chief of Long Beach Lifeguards, some of the 1,000-plus kids who were there that day told lifeguards they were from Hempstead, Roosevelt and Uniondale high schools.

“They told us it was senior cut day,” said Gillespie, who added that one teen had drunk too much alcohol and was taken away by friends.

* Jeff Lipton contributed to this story.

Lala May 25, 2012 at 03:19 PM
Sparklepants: ZCompletely agree!
Brendan May 25, 2012 at 03:24 PM
OK Pete, now we're getting somewhere. What don't you like about the WE after 2AM?
Candygram for Mongo May 25, 2012 at 03:34 PM
It is a shite show
Brendan May 25, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Could you be more specific?
Pete May 25, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Paul, I believe that the City Council would have to contact the State Liquor Authority and show cause on why the bars should have to close prior to 4am. Brendan, see Sparklepants comments. What she describes is a common occurrence on weekend nights in the West End, it's a zoo out there.
Brendan May 25, 2012 at 04:26 PM
And closing the bars earlier would prevent that behavior? Or would it just move the time back as to when that behavior would occur? Also, are you aware that all of the activities you described are illegal? Why aren't you angry with the well-paid police who have found no way to curb the behavior?
paul.d.spellman May 25, 2012 at 04:26 PM
Pete, Where does this belief stem from? Is there some mechanism in the state liquor laws that would allow for this?
Sparklepants May 25, 2012 at 04:45 PM
Wow Rob! Similar is an understatement! It sounds like they could be talking about our town. Interesting that the bars there were closing at 2am ... If I read that right. I'd settle for 2am as a compromise but I see no good coming from staying open as late as they do here because, as someone pointed out already, the ONLY thing happening then is drinking and people getting drunker and even more stupid! Most of these places we're talking about aren't serving food that late either so what is in the pro column that we are really giving up?
Alan Ginsberg May 25, 2012 at 05:41 PM
Now that Commissioner Tagney has gotten a $40,000 raise he'll make sure the police department works alot harder this summer.
Pete May 25, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Brendan, To start with, it would two hours less of drinking. This initself would help with the problem. Paul that would require some research. A bar can lose it's liquor license if the case is made that it is a public nuisance. Insofar as closing early, one would have to check with other towns that have already made this move. Also, using what they have already accomplished would save on time and money.
LB13 May 25, 2012 at 05:55 PM
If the bars shut down at 2am, drunk driving to Island Park and other places where the bars are open until 4am would become a tremendous issue. Unless it was a county or state law it would never work. That is why NY had to raise the drinking age to 21 back in the day -- too many people from NJ were drunk driving across state lines so they could legally drink. If the bars closed at 2, people would get their fill here, than make a drunken bee-line for Pops, Barnum Island Bars or RVC. You would just be in less of a deep sleep when the mass drunk exodus occurred. And not for nothing, the complaints about the west end always stupefies me. It's not like these bars sprung up out of nowhere in the last five yeras. Bars have been a prominent part of the West End for decades, in fact, when my parents lived here when they were younger, there were actually MORE bars down West. Any and every West End resident knew exactly what kind of environment they were moving into when they bought their home. If you wanted quiet you should have thought of that before you moved in next to a strip of bars. The east end doesn't have any of these issues and makes a lot more sense if you're looking for quiet.
Bill Callahan May 25, 2012 at 06:09 PM
I totally agree lb13. Keep the west end fun for everyone, every day should be irish day
paul.d.spellman May 25, 2012 at 07:02 PM
Pete, What other towns subject to the NYS liquor laws have already made this move?
Pete May 25, 2012 at 07:06 PM
So LB13 let me get this straight...let them drink till 4am and drive drunk in LB. Also, a lot has changed in the West End. Years ago what you pictured is when there were a lot of summer rentals. That's not the case anymore, most homes are occupied by year round residents. It would also help to ease the congestion if you stayed on the East End.
Candygram for Mongo May 25, 2012 at 07:10 PM
Nope - don't matter how long the bars were here - if the taxpaying residents want to organize and address the quality of life issues, it is in their right to do so. If they are not in the majority, then it will remain the status quo. Pretty simple
Sparklepants May 25, 2012 at 07:26 PM
I say no drinking by mainlanders in the west end after midnight! If you live here you can stay... The rest have to clear out! This way us west end drunks who moved here to be within walking distance of as many bars as possible can drink in peace and stumble home. At least then I'd know the people peeing on my flowers! ;)
Pete May 25, 2012 at 07:41 PM
Sparklepants for mayor.
ally K May 25, 2012 at 08:17 PM
So LBPD sets up a DWI check on Beech and Park at 2AM for the mass DUI exodus. I don't live in the West End but I feel for those West End residents. I would support the bars closing at 2. In addition, not everyone can afford a 600K house, homes in the West End run around 350-400K so if you want to live near the beach but can't afford the East End prices you live West.
ally K May 25, 2012 at 08:19 PM
Was it a quiet day?
Candygram for Mongo May 26, 2012 at 10:14 AM
Awesome fight outside Saloon at 4a this morning!
Old Drunken Sot May 26, 2012 at 11:29 AM
the city could sell a "bar pass" much like they do a beach pass. You could have individual passes, family passes, and for us serious long time drunks a senior pass.
ally K May 26, 2012 at 12:44 PM
Great idea... could also be a discount card by one drink get one free
Bill Callahan May 26, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Keep the west end fun for everyone,
Candygram for Mongo May 26, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Keep the west end fun for everyone,
LB TAXPAYA May 26, 2012 at 08:00 PM
Lets just hope that all these HIGH PAID POLICEMEN, FIREMEN, & POLITICIANS do not steal the thunder from the REAL HEROES (THE MEN AND WOMEN OF THE ARMED FORCES OF THE GREAT USA) ! I appreciate their civil service, but aren't there lots of others who perform civil service that aren't recognized? Like bridgebuilders, teachers, mailmen, streetcleaners, etc.?
llloyd May 27, 2012 at 01:54 AM
I'd love to see our new tax bills if we closed up all the bars. You could add another million to Long Beach's debt. Then we'd be on the patch complaining about taxes all day.
Candygram for Mongo May 27, 2012 at 05:39 AM
Sounds good to me
delete me May 27, 2012 at 01:49 PM
Will you be supplementing my income after it decreases due to patrons from outside Long Beach not coming here? Or perhaps you could pay for my cabs from out of town when I have to find a job elsewhere? And what about the hundreds of others who rely on this income to, I don't know, pay rent or eat or things like that?
delete me May 27, 2012 at 01:51 PM
Excuse me but there are bar / restaurant / store owners and employees who give a crap because they live here. You're an ass.
CP May 29, 2012 at 01:48 AM
Anyone else up on the boardwalk this afternoon. GHETTO!


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