Jersey Shore towns geared up to take on post-prom rowdiness
If your kid is headed to the Jersey Shore for prom weekend, you likely won't be able to keep a close eye on them. But don't worry, the cops will take care of that.
Decades-old tradition for juniors and seniors at many New Jersey high schools features a post-prom trip to shore towns such as Seaside Heights and Wildwood. It's the first weekend away, with no direct chaperoning, for a number of teenagers who may want to take advantage of just that.
"We know they're coming, but we’re not going to tolerate behaviors that are going to be detrimental to our people, our visitors, our residents," said Seaside Heights Mayor Tony Vaz of the late May-to-mid June prom and senior weekends. "If they do goofy things, that's one thing. If they do criminal things, that's another thing."
Patrols — both armed and unarmed officers — are increased in the borough for these weekends and throughout the summer, Vaz said. And cops in the meter division, who issue summonses to drivers who don't properly pay for parking, have been given the extra task of strolling the un-metered streets, looking for any activity that could be considered illegal or a nuisance.
Vaz said motel and apartment owners can't rent to anyone under 18 without a parent's signature, but officials are not naive enough to believe there's an adult on site all weekend.
The mayor said he anticipates there will be some problems — as would be the case with any large group — but believes the teenage crowd has gone through "big changes," in a good way, over the past few years in terms of behavior and respect.
Underage drinking is an annual issue during these weekends in Wildwood.
"Apparently to most of these kids and adults, the city of Wildwood's drinking age is different than the state of New Jersey for some reason," Mayor Ernie Troiano Jr. said, noting an arrest on this matter has led to driver's license suspensions and can affect scholarships for teens headed to college.
"You don't want to ruin anybody's future, but then again we don't want you coming down and acting like a fool," he said.
Landlords in the city are monitored to make sure they're not overloading their buildings, Troiano said. Plenty have been brought into the mayor's office and were told they're in danger of losing their mercantile license.
Just this week, Wildwood's police officers were equipped with body cameras to capture video and audio of their interactions on the beat.
Troiano said run-ins with the law are not as common in Wildwood as in other areas, but the cameras can be beneficial in court if and when a situation arises.
North Wildwood implemented body-worn police cameras in January. Avalon introduced them in February.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.