NORWALK, Conn. – Another early morning incident aboard the Island Belle has led the city to temporarily suspend the party boat’s permit to use Norwalk’s Visitors Dock.
Mayor Harry Rilling took the action Monday morning after receiving a police report that a large number of fights had broken out on the boat when it arrived in Norwalk early Saturday after a party cruise. Onboard security called the Norwalk Police, which responded en masse.
“Early this morning I had discussions with the police chief and the director of Recreation and Parks,” Rilling said in an email response to NancyOnNorwalk. “Mike Mocciae has sent an email to Mr. Hart advising him his permit to use the city dock is temporarily suspended. We will be contacting the State Liquor Commission to advise them of yet another significant incident aboard the Island Belle.”
According to Norwalk Police spokesman Terry Blake, at 3:13 a.m. Saturday, “our officers were dispatched to the Veterans Park parking area adjacent to the boat dock for a large fight. When officers arrived, numerous people were found loitering about the lot and/or attempting to leave the lot. Island Belle security reported that as passengers disembarked a large fight broke out and then transformed into several smaller fights. When the people who were fighting heard the sirens approaching they began to disperse.”
Rilling said the situation required a large police presence – reports say the entire midnight shift responded – leaving the rest of the city at risk.
“The situation at Veteran’s Park needed a significant police response at 3:30 a.m.,” the mayor said. “Those officers were called to quell the large number of fights and disturbances occurring at that time. Those officers being diverted were not available to respond to other emergencies in the event they were needed.”
Rilling said the city also is looking into a claim that Ken Hart, whose Sound Charter Group runs the Island Belle and books the charters, chastised one of his security guards for calling the police.
“The guard was in a difficult situation since the security people hired by Mr. Hart were totally unable to deal with the large crowds and disturbances,” Rilling said.
The incident was the third involving the Island Belle and Norwalk Police this summer. On June 29, police responded to reports of a fight onboard as the boat pulled into Norwalk in the early morning hours and say they patrons engaged in a large-scale fight in the parking lot as they exited the boat. A month later, on July 27, Norwalk Police arrested a man who had been detained by onboard security when he reportedly brought a loaded gun aboard the boat shortly before it departed. The man was reportedly held in a closet on the boat until after the cruise, when he was arrested.