New tactics circumvent No Knock law in Toms River
The law is difficult to enforce without cooperation from homeowners, according to Toms River Police Chief Mitch Little. In at least one instance, a homeowner with a No Knock sticker was approached by an individual who showed up in a rented vehicle and claimed to be from Canada and unaware of the ordinance.
"The biggest problem we're having is people are telling their neighbors or the Neighborhood Watch captain or whatever, and they're not reporting it to us directly and they're not getting the information from the person who is soliciting," said Little.
Little urges residents to step up and offered advice on what homeowners can do to help police.
"The best thing they could do is actually get a business card from this person, get a good look at them so they can identify them later, and we'll do everything we can to get out there, take a report, get the best description we can with the information we're provided, and then that person will still have to go sign a complaint," Little said.
While directly approaching a home with a "No Knock" sticker or leaving a flyer at the residence is a violation of the Township's policy, Little pointed out that solicitations by phone and direct mail are legal.
"They also think that just somebody driving down the street and looking at houses is a violation. That is not a violation," said Little. He pointed out that that situation sometimes leads to calls to police about suspicious people.
"There's a little bit of panic going on, at the same time, we understand everybody's frustration. We know some of the tricks that are being used, or trying to be used, but there's a fine line between somebody just driving or being another resident in our town, or somebody possibly wanting to be a resident in our town and doing something illegal," explained Little.
A police officer also must have probable cause to issue a summons and must win that in court beyond a reasonable doubt, according to Little.
"He has to convince a judge that this person actually intended to violate this ordinance," Little explained. However, Little had a warning for those who try to claim they are unaware of the No Knock ordinance.
"Ignorance is no excuse. We are still going to prosecute," Little said.
Most of the complaints about the No Knock law being violated have been in North Dover, but according to Little, it does happen in other sections of the Township. He noted a summons was issued to a realtor from Lacey that was unknowingly soliciting homeowners.