by Capt. Gregory Staffordsmith, Lakewood Police Department
As you are all aware, COVID-19 has presented its own unprecedented challenges to law enforcement this week. However, the Lakewood Police Department, along with our local, county, and state counterparts, have adapted and will continue to provide the best service we can in the safest manner possible for all parties. We encourage everyone to engage in behavior that will help prevent its spread. This includes cleaning you hands often, avoiding close contact with people who are known to be sick, staying at home if you are not well, covering coughs and sneezes, consider wearing a facemask, cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces and practice SOCIAL DISTANCING.
In addition, we have been proactively and actively addressing issues that are in violation of the directives set forth by Governor Murphy on Monday afternoon. So far we have responded to approximately 17 calls for service directly relating to violations of his mitigation strategies. Many were in the immediate hours after its imposition.
We want the public to know that we have heard and share their concerns regarding gatherings of more than fifty people and have taken action against those who have failed to comply.
Earlier in the week, we received numerous, calls, emails and posts to our social media in reference to weddings that were taking place at several catering halls. Law Enforcement Officials, with the assistance of Community Liaisons, were able to successfully obtain compliance from the Lake Terrace and Fountain Ballroom owners and staff. Both establishments have been closed down since that time.
However, other venues have popped up. Officers responded to a residential home on Oliver Court yesterday evening after the large crowd sparked a flurry of notifications from concerned citizens. The initial response by the Officers dispersed the crowd as quickly as possible in an effort to limit exposure to all involved. A follow up was conducted this morning resulting in the issuance of a criminal complaint. The homeowner, 43-year-old Shaul Kuperwasser was charged on the scene with Maintaining a Public Nuisance and expected to be in court next month. In addition, the Lakewood Township Inspections Department was also on scene and determined the location to be unsafe.
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The Lakewood Police also responded to a flood of notifications regarding a dormitory located at 801 West Kennedy Boulevard that failed to vacate. At this time our priority is to get these students back to their families as quickly and safely as possible. We are currently working closely with local liaisons and school officials to expedite this and the number of students remaining is reported to be less than 50 at this time and all are expected to be removed by this evening. In addition, we have contacted our counterparts at the New Jersey Protection and Permanency. An Officer is and will remain on scene until this is concluded.
Earlier this morning we learned of another pop-up wedding venue at a Spruce Street home also resulting in a criminal complaint. The homeowner, 49-year-old Eliyohu Zaks was also charged on the scene with Maintaining a Nuisance after Officers found a gathering of more than 50 people. The crowd was dispersed and Mr. Zaks is expected to be in court next month as well.
The Lakewood Police is asking that its citizens be responsible and obey the directives set forth by the State of New Jersey for the safety and health of all. Those that choose not to will be subject to criminal prosecution. If anyone is in need of additional information pertaining to COVID-19 we are doing our best to keep the public safe and informed by the use of our social media pages.
Once again, I would like to personally thank you for your patience, support, and dedication in getting our messages out.