Morristown Police Chief Peter Demnitz is noticeably uncomfortable with taking the credit.
When asked about why he has joined other officers from his department—as well as assistance from Rockaway Borough and Morris County Sheriffs—on patrol during bar-heavy weekend evenings, Demnitz begs off.
Yes, while Mayor Tim Dougherty has publicly noted the chief's several decades of crowd management training and his assurance he will give the somewhat heated issue of how to control the swell of weekend drinkers "his personal attention," Demnitz emphasized the help police have received from several downtown bars in maintaining as much order as possible. That, and knowing when it's time to call the cops.
Such was the case when a 21-year-old Budd Lake patron had been kicked out of Sona Thirteen shortly after 1 a.m. on Sept. 23 as he had been creating a disturbance. It was Demnitz who was first approached by bar staff and who held the man in custody before Officer Brian LaBarre arrived and placed him under arrest.
Demnitz said his crowd management training began in 1986 through a series of incidents, including when a former Madison Avenue abortion clinic became overrun with protestors.
Demnitz then trained in Washington, D.C. and Miami and, by 1992, was training with the Morristown Police, then the Morris County Police Academy, where he has continued to train since.
Even when a white supremacist march in 2000 tested the abilities of the Morristown Police, Demnitz defers, noting "we had police officers from 39 municipalities and three county agencies," he said. "There were a lot of protestors."
"I have taken those principles and I have applied them to working the bars," Demnitz said. "We deal with the small stuff, we address your loud and disorderlies so it doesn't grow into a big problem."
Still, it's pretty unusual to see a police chief still out hoofing it in the field.
"I have a decent amount of expertise in this area, these are applied principles I have learned," Demnitz said. "But, this should be about the bars. ... It's a nice crowd of people. There isn't that much we have to deal with."
Since an increased police presence was put in place over the summer, Demnitz said there has been only a few out-of-hand incidents. 99.999 percent of people are "apologetic and on their way," he said.
"I give credit to cooperative efforts between uniformed police presence, the plans of the bars and implementation from the people working," the chief said.