By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
Sea Isle City is adding new surveillance cameras to keep an electronic eye on popular spots along the Landis Avenue corridor in the downtown business district, including bars, restaurants and retail shops.
Four cameras are being placed on Landis Avenue at the intersections of John F. Kennedy Boulevard, 40th Street, 39th Street and 38th Street, Police Chief Anthony Garreffi said in an interview Tuesday.
The high-resolution cameras will livestream color images directly to the Sea Isle Police Department around the clock year-round.
Garreffi said the city is waiting for electrical hookups to bring the cameras online. He said the work is expected to be completed by Memorial Day weekend, the traditional start of the busy summer tourism season.
Sea Isle has a year-round population of about 2,100 residents, but the summer season traditionally brings about 50,000 to 60,000 visitors and vacationers. The downtown bars, restaurants and retail shops along Landis Avenue are popular spots for the crowds, so police want to closely watch those areas using the surveillance cameras.
The cameras in the downtown business district are the second phase of a broader strategy by the city to monitor areas that attract large crowds. Garreffi said police are keeping up with the latest technology and using the cameras as “a law enforcement tool.”
In addition to helping keep the city safe, Garreffi hopes that the cameras will act as a crime deterrent once word gets out that police will be watching key areas of town.
Police will also be able to use the cameras as an “investigative tool” by capturing a high-resolution image and description of criminal suspects, Garreffi explained.
In some cases, the police department may turn to the public for help in identifying criminal suspects by circulating video images online or through its Facebook page, he noted.
Lt. James McQuillen called the cameras “a force multiplier” by giving one or two police officers the ability to watch over 15 different areas of the city.
Like other shore towns, Sea Isle has been dealing with large groups of unruly teens who disrupted parts of the summer vacation season three years in a row with foul language, underage drinking, vandalism and theft.
The surveillance cameras are part of Sea Isle’s wider strategy to deter crime. Heading into the summer season of 2023, the city enacted a 10 p.m. curfew for minors under the age of 18 and a backpack ban between the hours of 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. for juveniles and adults to curb unruly behavior.
In 2022, City Council approved a $195,693 contract to install 13 surveillance cameras on the busiest parts of Sea Isle’s oceanfront Promenade.
The first phase of the Promenade project included placing cameras between 36th Street and 44th Street last year, Garreffi and McQuillen said.
Four or five new cameras are planned for the Promenade this year and six or seven more will be coming in 2025, they said.
Altogether, Sea Isle will spend about $400,000 for its program to place surveillance cameras throughout town, Garreffi said.
Police are also looking to install four cameras from 59th Street to 63rd Street this year to monitor the area that includes the retail shopping center anchored by an Acme supermarket.
Next year, there are plans for six or seven new cameras for the JFK Boulevard entryway and the city’s public marina along 42nd Place, Garreffi said.