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The camera attached near the top of this light pole overlooking the Promenade at JFK Boulevard is part of a test for a new surveillance system.

By DONALD WITTKOWSKI

Sea Isle City is looking to have a surveillance camera system in place by this summer to allow the police department to watch “as many areas as possible” on the oceanfront Promenade.

Capt. Anthony Garreffi, officer in charge of the Sea Isle Police Department, said the city is considering different types of surveillance systems before it makes a decision on selecting a vendor to supply the cameras.

“We have narrowed it down to a couple. Each company has different features. The better the feature, the more expensive the price tag becomes. Mainly we are interested in the video quality portion, not sound at this time,” Garreffi said in an email.

Garreffi added more details about the surveillance system since his initial comments in a Feb. 22 story by SeaIsleNews.com that revealed the city has begun testing on high-tech cameras. https://seaislenews.com/sea-isle-testing-surveillance-camera-promenade/.

He reiterated that the city hopes to have the surveillance system in place by the summer.  He noted that police will have direct access to the video feed at all times and that it will be recorded.

“We want to cover as many areas as possible on the Promenade,” he said.

Although Sea Isle has not yet selected the exact locations for new surveillance cameras, city spokeswoman Katherine Custer said they would be placed at the “most advantageous areas of the Promenade.”

“This is just the next step in law enforcement. It’s the city keeping up with technology. This is on the police department’s agenda to keep up with technology,” Custer said.

She said the city also plans to install a surveillance camera at the municipal playground area on John F. Kennedy Boulevard, a popular place for teens.

Capt. Anthony Garreffi says the surveillance system will be “another tool” for the Sea Isle City Police Department.

Police particularly want to keep an eye on the Promenade during the bustling summer tourism season, when the popular walkway is crowded with visitors and there are concerns about unruly teenagers causing trouble at night.

“This is another tool for the police department to use for different reasons. We do not believe that it will ‘prevent’ rowdy behavior. We are expecting the cameras to deter certain behaviors,” Garreffi said in his email.

Like other shore towns, Sea Isle dealt with an outbreak of rowdy teens who disrupted parts of the 2021 summer vacation season with foul language, underage drinking, vandalism and theft.

Sea Isle responded by increasing the number of police patrols on the Promenade and closing off the pathways to the beach at 10 p.m. to prevent large groups of teens from gathering together.

On Feb. 11, Mayor Leonard Desiderio hosted a summit in Sea Isle with Cape May County representatives and state lawmakers to consider a series of preemptive measures ranging from new local ordinances to new state legislation to curb rowdy behavior.

Cape May County Prosecutor Jeffrey Sutherland said during the summit that he and other county prosecutors will work with Gov. Phil Murphy’s newly appointed Attorney General Matt Platkin on ways to give police more authority to deal with underage drinking and other juvenile offenses.

Desiderio and other officials drew a link between problems caused by underage drinking and New Jersey’s legalization of recreational marijuana for adults. The marijuana laws approved in 2021 include restrictions that prevent police officers from detaining juveniles for possession of cannabis and alcohol.

Sea Isle officials, meanwhile, have been discussing the possibility of adding surveillance cameras to the Promenade as part of plans to brighten it up and make it safer by installing new lighting.

The first step was taken in 2020 when new decorative light poles reminiscent of Victorian-style lamps were placed on the Promenade between 35th and 44th streets at a cost of $843,000.

The decorative lights between 35th and 44th streets are the first phase of a more extensive relighting of the Promenade that will eventually stretch the entire length of the walkway from 29th to 57th streets, city officials say.