This year, for the first time since 1998, the Mischief Night/Halloween combo falls on a Friday and Saturday. Does that portend trouble in the form of tissued utility lines, egged front doors and soaped-over car windshields?
Not as far as Red Bank police are concerned. They say crackdown on teenage after-hours loitering in general, and an annual curfew for two nights bookending Halloween in particular, has reduced problems dramatically in recent years.
Though the borough council’s Halloween curfew resolution is a pro-forma item approved each without much discussion, it has the intended effect, police Captain Steve McCarthy believes.
“Everyone respects it,” he said.
The normal curfew for anyone under 18 not accompanied by a parent or guardian is 10:30p to 6a Sunday through Thursday, and midnight to 6a on Fridays and Saturdays. The Halloween curfew, effective for October 30 and 31, starts at 9p both nights.
Not long ago, after-hours loitering by teens in borough parks and around stores was “a considerable problem” and the subject of a growing number of complaints, McCarthy said.
In May 2007, after store owners complained of vandalized vehicles and customer harassment. Mayor Pasquale Menna blasted an influx of “rich kids from other towns” grafitti-bombing the public library and hanging out in front of businesses near West Front Street and Maple Avenue.
A police crackdown that summer found that most of the violators were in fact from out of town, McCarthy said. It also had the effect of reducing the problem. Since enforcement was upped, the problem has abated, he said.
In all of 2008, there were 14 reported incidents, involving 35 individuals, of teen curfew violations, according to department stats. Just one of those cases, involving 10 kids, came on Halloween — which fell on a Friday night. In that incident, an East Side resident called in a complaint shortly after 10p, and when police told the kids to go home, they all did, McCarthy said.
“We give warnings, initially. ‘Time to start heading home, kids,’ ” McCarthy said. “Ninety-nine-point-nine percent of the time, they comply. That’s really our goal, to get them to go home.”
Those who don’t are arrested.
What happens after that? Under a state Attorney General’s directive, a unit headed by borough police Lieutenant Mike Clay reviews all arrests of juveniles to determine which cases should go to the family division of state Superior Court and which can be addressed by the police in a sit-down with the juvenile and parents in what’s known as a “stationhouse adjustments” program.
That program, in which participation is voluntary, accounts for the vast majority of juvenile cases, McCarthy said. It usually results in a teen agreeing to perform community service or write an essay, though some matters result in referrals for alcohol abuse or anger management, and some call for restitution for damages. Cases can go to family court at the defendant’s request, he said.
Drug possession, sexual offenses and cases in which someone suffered significant injury are among those not eligible for the program, according to the guidelines.
Here’s the curfew resolution: curfew-resolution