SOUTH ORANGE, NJ – Police met with South Orange residents worried about a flash mob that left South Orange packed with hundreds of youths last weekend.
A member of the board of trustees, two police officers and the police chief of South Orange attended Thursday’s specially convened public safety meeting. They spoke to citizens about Saturday night’s mob, as well as their plans to make South Orange safer.
According to their report, at approximately 7:15 pm last Saturday a group of about 400 youngsters gathered at the center of town, near the New York Fried Chicken restaurant.
Police took over one hour to clear the mob. Unable to get the group out of town quickly, neighboring police departments were called in. During the chaos, a smaller group of juveniles allegedly committed an assault at New York Fried Chicken after being told to leave.
The police made it clear at Thursday’s meeting that, despite flash mobs happening last summer, they had not expected one in the winter and were caught off guard by the incident. Only three officers and one chief were available initially.
They said they are working to improve town safety and are implementing new tactics in order to prevent another incident like this.
One officer said they planned to display a “show of force” by increasing status, proclaiming that such a tactic might deter people from causing trouble.
“If two people are guarding a castle, people might try to throw rocks at the castle and cause trouble,” the officer said. “If there’s a large group of people guarding the castle, they might think twice.”
In addition to this, substations were being opened in order to increase police patrols. The officers also stated they would engage the youth in town and give them a friendly warning not to cause any trouble. Police said there were plans to install cameras at “hot spots” where trouble seemed to occur.
The police department plans on using Facebook and Twitter to keep track of potentially criminal activities planned for the town. Google Maps will also be used so that the police can more easily track down the location of the offenders.
“Business owners are saying they regret ever coming to South Orange,” a mother of five children and a 27 year resident of the town said at the meeting.
This comment led to several citizens taking the stand to emotionally inform those in attendance that they feared the town hasn’t been safe in years.