New chaperone policy goes into effect at Garden State Plaza Mall in Paramus

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Friday, April 28, 2023
New chaperone policy goes into effect at Garden State Plaza
New rules go into effect Friday at the Garden State Plaza in Paramus, New Jersey. Darla Miles has the details.

PARAMUS, New Jersey (WABC) -- New rules go into effect Friday at the Garden State Plaza Mall in Paramus that would require anyone under 18 years old to have a chaperone on certain days.

All mall visitors under 18 must be accompanied by a chaperone who is at least 21 or older on Fridays and Saturdays after 5 p.m.

"Sometimes it's like a whole bunch of them," shopper Atusa Nazari said. "It seems like parents just leave them there as if it's a playground and leave."

Incident data is not available because the mall is a private company, but according to the Paramus Police Department annual reports, from 2021 to 2022, juvenile cases citywide have increased by 124%, and juvenile arrests are up 750%.

Mayor Chris Di Piazza said the dynamic at the mall has deterred some people from shopping there.

"I'm a lifer from Paramus, I hung out at Paramus Park Mall, but we were never throwing chairs at each other or holding handguns," Di Piazza said. "This will help our police department not go there on the weekends quite as often we hope."

Late Friday afternoon, a large police presence was seen at the mall. With officers prepared for any possible disturbance and in a position to help enforce the new policy.

Police officers and mall security guards will be at entrances to check IDs.

"We are committed to providing a safe and welcoming environment for our guests to enjoy while shopping, dining or attending an event at Westfield Garden State Plaza," said Wesley Rebisz, senior general manager. "After careful consideration, we have decided to implement a parental guidance policy on Friday and Saturday evenings to ensure everyone feels comfortable in our shopping center and can enjoy their experience. We want emphasize that all guests are welcome."

Meanwhile, some residents said the city should create programs for teens so they have more to do.

"They're not going to go with their parents, they're not going to go there," Peggy Newbouer said. "But I think new things have to be created for young children to do."

Anyone under 18 in the mall after 5 p.m. on those days will be asked to contact their parent/guardian to either pick them up or accompany the minor during the remainder of their visit to the mall.

Waiting zones at Entrance 1 by AMC Theatres, Entrance 10 on the west side of the property, and Entrance 15 by the Food Court have been established for anyone who needs to be picked up.

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