Atlantic City police promote diverse group to lieutenants

Atlantic City celebrated a diverse group of new lieutenants, including its first Latino in the position.
Wil Santiago was among seven sergeants that also included Alexis Zellinger, the only female promoted who also speaks fluent Spanish.
The positions are acting, as litigation continues through the courts between the state and the city’s police union. Although no mention of that was indicated at the ceremony nor in press releases making the announcements.
Sgt. Mark Benjamin, a black officer who joined that suit citing racial discrimination, was also among those being promoted.
“It’s a great day for the city,” Mayor Frank Gilliam said after the ceremony.
Before the group was sworn in, he said he was proud of them all.
The ceremony also saw five Class II officers be moved up to full-time positions in the department.
Chief Henry White said he prefers this way over a Civil Service list, since it gives them a chance to see how the officer works.

Chief Henry White holds the Bible as the former Class II officers are sworn in to full-time.

“This is truly the best of the Class IIs,” he said as he welcomed Kerry Dunbar, Aaron Jones, Kevin McGloin, Irwin Sanchez and Michael Vega to the full-time ranks.
Former Class II Officers Craig Johnson and Hiram Mercado were promoted last week.
These officers join the department in a different world than those being promoted to lieutenant were dealing with when they first took the oath, Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon Tyner noted.
Now they also need to be social workers and drug counselors.
“Governor Murphy and I offer congratulations to these officers on this outstanding achievement,” Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, who was not in attendance, said in a news release. “Their hard-earned promotion to lieutenant is the result of proven leadership skills, high job performance and poise while serving the people.”
She noted the diversity of those chosen.
“I want to thank the interview committee for selecting a diverse group of candidates to promote,” City Council President Marty Small said. “City Council stands in support of the promotions, and this is just the start of rewarding our hard-working employees in all departments in 2019.”
In December, Assignment Judge Julio Mendez permitted the city to move forward with six lieutenant promotions in an acting capacity.
“The acting lieutenant candidates shall be informed that this is an acting, temporary appointment and not a permanent appointment,” Mendez wrote.
Also promoted were Daniel Corcoran, Dean Dooley, Mike Francisco and Andrew Leonard.
“These additional commanders are going to go a long way in ensuring better oversight and accountability, as ACPD continues its mission of protecting everyone in Atlantic City,” White said.
Before swearing in the group, retired Judge Steve Perskie noted that in a few months he would mark 50 years in his professional relationship with the department.
“We continue to take issue with the process or lack of in how the state goes about making these decisions,” he told BreakingAC.
He said the state’s complete control over day-to-day operations was not in the agreement.
“Their quest for power is apparent in the failure to even abide by a judge’s order,” he said.