After some people leaving local restaurant and nightclub Porta were exposed to pepper spray last weekend due to a fight, the establishment’s owners will now be hiring an off-duty police officer to deal with the crowds when the club lets out.
Around 2 a.m. last Sunday morning, several fights broke out as people were leaving Porta, Police Chief Mark Kinmon said. An officer used pepper spray on some of the parties involved in a fight across the street from Porta’s front door on Kingsley Avenue. The pepper spray may have floated back across the street to the people standing outside the club, Kinmon said.
Up to 250 people were leaving Porta and the officers received reports of an assault and a broken car window, for which they were unable to make arrests, Kinmon said. However, two people were arrested that night in connection with the incident, according to the chief. A 21-year-old male from Asbury Park was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and obstructing public passages, and a 31-year-old male from New York City was arrested and charged with possession of a controlled dangerous substance, drug paraphernalia and contempt of court.
“A couple of fights broke out and officers were trying to deal with that,” Kinmon said. “People in the street refused to leave the roadway while cars were passing by … People in the crowd started to shout at officers.”
Officers were breaking up fights and dealing with people obstructing the roadway when they used the pepper spray, Kinmon said. After the officers used pepper spray, “the crowd started to flee the area so they didn’t make any arrests as a result of those fights.”
Kinmon said he met with some of Porta’s owners to discuss the events of last Saturday night and Sunday morning.
“They’ve always had private security to help deal with the crowds and in the past they’ve hired an off-duty police officer to assist with crowd control and deter any unruly activity,” Kinmon said. “There was no police officer working that night but we have met with ownership and they’ve indicated they are going to hire a police officer again to be posted outside of the bar. That’s going to start tonight.”
Jim Watt, one of the owners of Porta, said that the establishment will now hire an off-duty officer every Friday and Saturday night from 10:00 pm. until closing. The officer will be stationed outside to ensure that patrons leaving are not in the street, and are proceeding to their cars or a taxi, he said.
“The comfort and well-being of our customers is most important to us and we will do everything we can to ensure that they are taken care of,” Watt said.