Cop crackdown keeps lid on Clam Jam revels
Updated 6:00 am, Monday, April 30, 2012
A concerted, coordinated effort between police, the Lantern Point Association and Fairfield University helped to turn the tide against mayhem Saturday at the annual pre-graduation beach bash, the Clam Jam.
The party hosted by Fairfield U. seniors at Lantern Point has been an end-of-year ritual for decades, before a court injunction secured in 2001 by Fairfield Beach Road residents to control the event, used to draw thousands to the beachside revels. The injunction limits the number of party goers on Lantern Point to 150, but Police Chief Gary McNamara said over the last several years the number of students attending has continued to creep upward.
The Lantern Point Association on Saturday hired six police officers to be on the property itself. There were also officers stationed at DUI checkpoints on Fairfield Beach and Reef roads and private security officers, police and Lantern Point members checking for neon green wristbands issued to residents and a limited number of guests that were required to gain admittance.
The Bridgeport Police Department's mounted police unit was also on hand to assist with crowd control, which came in handy when the party shut down shortly before 5 p.m. The equestrian officers helped to keep people moving, and to break up a smaller party on Reef Road hosted by Sacred Heart University students.
In all, about a dozen infractions were issued to party goers, mainly for having an open container of alcohol in public. One person, Justin Levy, 22, was charged with breach of peace and third-degree assault after police said he punched a Lantern Point student resident trying to move people off his porch. Two people also were taken to the hospital for over-intoxication.
Paige Herman, the Fairfield Beach Residents Association president, said the party began Saturday earlier than expected -- around 8:30 a.m. -- and by 10 a.m. there were about 250 students on the deck at Lantern Point. But periodic sweeps through the crowd by security and police personnel to check for the wristbands cut down the crowds, she said.
"The FBRA couldn't be happier with the actions Lantern Point is taking this year," Herman said.
Some enterprising students, upon learning of the green wristbands required for entrance, went to 16 Handles, a downtown frozen yogurt stop, that was distributing its own, similar own bracelets as advertising. But for many students, those fake wristbands didn't pass muster and they found themselves turned away. Many tried to plead their case to be allowed entry, saying a friend or even a relative was inside and had their wristband.
"It's horrible security," said Mike Aronne, 21. "They are not nice people. Their security is very rude, it's almost police brutality."
As the afternoon wore on, McNamara was pleased with the way things were going. "So far, it appear to be a well-managed event," he said.
Lantern Point member Ed Bateson, who also serves on the Representative Town Meeting, was on hand all day, often tending the gate at the community. "I think we've taken effective measures, and the kids have been cooperative," he said.
Even First Selectman Michael Tetreau visited the area. "I think Chief McNamara and his team laid out a good plan to help manage the situation down here," he said.
McNamara said police would planned to closely monitor the town's beach neighborhood throughout the night, as other smaller house parties were expected to pop up during the evening.
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