In recent weeks, the East Hampton Town Police log has been peppered with “quality-of-life” weekend entries, minor and not so minor incidents occurring in and around downtown Montauk and, to a lesser extent, Amagansett’s popular night-time hotspots.
On Tuesday, Chief Edward Ecker read through some of the recent summonses. “Urination in public, urination in public, open container, open container, camping on the beach. . . .” The list, including summonses for littering, went on. Since Memorial Day, 242 quality-of-life summonses have been issued in Montauk alone.
“Part-time officers are deployed to do the quality-of-life stuff,” said the chief, but “as the summer rolls on, we supplement the part-time officers by adding full-time officers just getting off at midnight,” when, according to the logs, the summonses flow freely. Those officers, who patrol areas that tend to be the source of public annoyance, are paid at overtime rates for an extra four hours of work. The nighttime operation is run weekly by Sgt. Peter Schmitt, a 17-year veteran of the force.
Between midnight Friday and 2 a.m., nine quality-of-life summonses were issued, all in the immediate vicinity of the Point Bar and Grill and the Memory Motel in Montauk.
The wildness starts a bit later on Saturday nights. In a single hour early Sunday, between 2:30 and 3:30 a.m., town police wrote seven summonses in the same Montauk area.
Besides the quality-of-life issues, police are on the lookout for drugs. Not a weekend passes during the summer when there are not arrests made in downtown Montauk for possession of marijuana, as well as possession of small amounts of cocaine.
Fights are another problem. Police keep an open channel to the security staffs at the various establishments, in order to react to a problem before it gets out of hand.
Chief Ecker, who is himself a Montauk resident, said the perimeters of several bars and clubs in particular are the targets for patrolling officers. The establishments are magnets for young people seeking a good time, drawing large crowds that drink, dance, and in some cases misbehave.
In downtown Montauk, officers focus on Main Street, not only around and behind the Memory and across the street at the Point, but also on the roads, parkland, and parking lots immediately adjacent to those bars and near the Sloppy Tuna. Other targets are Ruschmeyer’s on Second House Road and the Surf Lodge on South Edgemere (although Chief Ecker said the Surf Lodge clientele seems to be far more code compliant after leaving the premises than the throngs downtown, who tend to be younger and not as affluent).
Also on the police radar are taxis, which have been a constant source of complaint from visitors and locals alike. The police issue quality-of-life summonses for overloaded cabs and constantly check the documentation of the drivers and their vehicles.
Local taxi drivers nevertheless say not enough is done to regulate the out-of-town cabs that flood Montauk on weekends. “They made us get an office. Where are the offices of these other companies?” Jerry Uribe, a driver and dispatcher for Surf Taxi, asked Tuesday.
The sprawling late-night street scene outside the Stephen Talkhouse and Indian Wells Tavern in Amagansett, which police say spills over to the town parking lot in back, is on the radar as well.
“It’s a target-rich environment,” Chief Ecker said, promising more of the same as the summer winds down.