CHERRY HILL, N.J. (CBS) — Police in Cherry Hill are hoping to avoid a repeat of Dec. 26, 2017, when mayhem broke out at the Cherry Hill Mall. That’s when police say unsupervised teens started brawling there on the day after Christmas.
The mall says this is one of the most violent days of the year for them.
While Christmas has come and gone, the season of shopping continues.
Nationwide, malls are a popular place to be the day after Christmas — sometimes a little too popular.
In 2017, police say somewhere between 700 and 1,000 unsupervised children and teens were at the mall and it turned into a dangerous mob.
“There were multiple fights within the mall itself around the food court area, which then caused this large mass of teenagers to start running through the mall. It created a public safety issue,” Cherry Hill Police Chief Bud Monaghan said.
To avoid another such incident, the mall closed two hours early on the day after Christmas last year.
This year, they’re trying something new, requiring anyone under 18 to have an adult over the age of 21 with them after 4 p.m.
“It’s definitely in the interest of public safety. It’s not meant to harm anybody or a particular group. It’s meant to keep a safe shopping environment and a safe town for people to come to,” Monaghan said.
Mall management would not allow CBS3 cameras in the mall today and declined an interview but explained the parental escort policy in a statement.
“We have seen a notable increase in troubling behavior by unaccompanied teens on 12/26 and that is why we implemented this policy for 5 hours. This is a significant shopping day both for mall retailers and for our local shoppers,” said Senior Marketing Director Lisa Wolstromer.
“I think it’s a great idea because these kids are out of control these days,” shopper Nicole Wysocki said.
“I think it’s ridiculous. There’s a lot of kids out here that some parents can’t come with them — they’re working, busy, a lot of holiday things. I personally think it’s ridiculous,” shopper Osvaldo Ortiz said.
Cherry Hill police say the mall paid to have several dozen off-duty officers come to the mall to help provide security.