Move over Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen, The Jersey Shore has become what most think of when New Jersey comes to mind. The MTV show has portrayed all the best and worst in New Jersey and Seaside Heights. While watching that show, an audience looking for low-brow entertainment can be treated to bar fights, assaults, excessive drinking and essentially 30-year-old adolescent behavior wrapped around the Seaside Heights shore scene.

When that show hit Seaside for its two months of filming, usually during the peak summer months, it attracted a slew of spectators and wannabes. Its antics and the show’s crew had to be monitored and kept reasonably safe. This responsibility fell to the local police department, which expended considerable time and manpower to do just that and keep Seaside Heights on the map.

Beyond Television

On a stretch of sand along the Jersey Shore that is 1-mile long and .5-mile wide, Seaside Heights, N.J., is known for its beach, boardwalk and summer fun activities. One of the many shore towns, Seaside Heights is located in Ocean County, and during the off-peak months it has a population of approximately 3,000 residents. Once Memorial Day hits and through the peak summer months, the population skyrockets to approximately 65,000 people, many of whom fall into the 18-to-21 age bracket. In addition to New Jersey visitors, Seaside’s vacationers come from surrounding New York and Pennsylvania, an easy drive for those residents. As Chief Tommy Boyd told me, “Once Memorial Day hits, we get packed, and it stays like that through the entire summer.”

Chief Tommy Boyd would know. He grew up in Seaside Heights. The chief has 28 years with the department and rose through the ranks from patrol officer to chief. As he told me, “During the four days of Memorial Day weekend, we will average around 400 arrests, or 100 arrests per day, with charges ranging from aggravated assault to drunk and disorderly conduct. The summer is always a busy time for us.”

Boardwalk Enforcers

For a small town, Chief Boyd has built a full-spectrum, fully-resourced department that keeps the peace in a town that has been credited for giving many adolescents their first shore experience.

Chief Boyd said, “My department has 43 full-time police officers that work year-round. Those officers are divided into patrol and detective sections. The patrol section is broken down further into a Boardwalk sector and a West End sector, which has most of our residents. There are two lieutenants and four sergeants that supervise the patrol section.”

The chief continued, “Our detective section has one detective supervisor and five detectives, one of which is assigned to the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office and another assigned to the DEA Drug Task Force. On average, the department handles about 2,600 in custody arrests per year and thousands of calls for assistance. Despite the size, we are a very busy department.”

Over the years, Chief Boyd has seen the department grow and change from a small shore town department to a full-service professional police force. “We recently purchased 50 GLOCK 27s for our patrol officers and eight GLOCK 23s for our detectives due to their reliability and stopping power,” said Chief Boyd.

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