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Wildwood Board of Commissioners expected to pass emergency backpack ban

Wildwood leaders expected to pass nighttime backpack ban
Wildwood leaders expected to pass nighttime backpack ban 02:00

WILDWOOD, N.J. (CBS) — A big change could be coming to the boardwalk in Wildwood.

Its Board of Commissioners is expected to pass a new emergency backpack ban ordinance Wednesday night that will go into effect immediately from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. daily.

This ban follows several violent incidents up and down shore towns already this summer season, including Saturday night in North Wildwood. Police are asking for the public's help to identify two suspects wanted in connection to an assault near 26th Street.

Safety officials tell CBS News Philadelphia the ban is necessary to protect residents and tourists as many juveniles are bringing "paraphernalia and alcohol" on the boardwalk in backpacks.

However, Damien Burch, who was visiting Wildwood, believes the problem is closer to home. "They should get rid of all the vape shops selling to underage kids. They offered me when I was coming down. They said, 'Come in, get some vapes' — didn't ask for an ID — that's what they should get rid of instead of bags."

The ban would include all backpacks except diaper bags, medical equipment and small purses. Anyone caught with a backpack will be asked to leave and could be fined if they return.

Ocean City enacted a ban last year that includes all backpacks on the beach and boardwalk after 8 p.m. The City of Wildwood would be the first on this island to take such a step. Wildwood already moved its curfew up to 10 p.m. this summer.

People who spoke to CBS News Philadelphia had mixed reactions.

"There has to be something done with it because there are too many things going on out here," Roosevelt Defreitas said.

"They make all diaper bags look like this now. You look on Amazon, stuff like that, they don't make old diaper bags anymore, so everybody has them," Brittany Murray said.

"It sounds like a good idea, but it may be hard to enforce. I think people will still get away with stuff,"  Frank Piff said.

Officials also said as of now, backpacks on the beach in Wildwood are a "gray area."

The commissioners will meet Wednesday at 5 p.m. to vote on this ordinance.

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