Atlantic City made history Monday with the Police Department’s first female deputy chief.
Bridget Pierce is now the highest-ranking woman to ever serve on the department.
But latest round of promotions wasn’t just mold-breaking, it was a family affair.
Pierce’s sister and husband — Mary Grace Cooke and Douglas Pierce — became the department’s two newest captains as well.
“These well-deserved promotions are reflective of my administration’s commitment to support the needs of the Atlantic City Police Department and enhance public safety throughout the entire city,” Mayor Marty Small said. “I salute the dedicated women and men who are ‘Atlantic City’s finest,’ and wholeheartedly embrace their collective efforts as they protect and serve the citizens and taxpayers of our great city.”
The promotions have been a while coming, detained by a court hearing where the union questioned how promotions happen now that Atlantic City is no longer under Civil Service.
But a ruling by Judge Julio Mendez last week cleared the way, as well as for more who will serve in an acting capacity.
The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, which still oversees the city, approved the promotions, recognizing “that history was made today within the Atlantic City Police Department with the first-ever appointment of a female deputy chief, Bridget Pierce,” spokeswoman Lisa Ryan said. “In addition to Deputy Chief Pierce’s appointment today, the city and ACPD also appointed two captains and four lieutenants.”
The four new lieutenants: Monica Coursey, Donnell Holland, Kevin Fair and Henry White III, son of the city’s police chief.
Class II Officer Kushal Laroiya also was promoted to full-time officer status Monday.
“DCA approves and applauds these promotions and acknowledges what an outstanding accomplishment it is for these individual officers,” Ryan said. “It is our expectation that these police leaders will make us proud as they further public safety in Atlantic City.”
“When there is the discussion of gender equality and diversity, “this class checked off all the boxes, and I’m just happy it happened on my watch,” Small said.
Deputy Chief Pierce already has played a major leadership role in the department.
In 2014, she oversaw Internal Affairs as the department implemented a system that tracked officers to flag potential issues before they became a problem.
She was a critical part in helping test out and putting the system in place, Chief White said at the time.
Pierce also has served as head of the city’s Vice Unit.
At a Civilian Police Academy several years ago, she talked about being a beat officer in the city’s Stanley Holmes Village neighborhood and getting to know the people who lived there.
Most of the latest class of promotions are Atlantic City natives, Small noted.
That includes the newest deputy chief and her now-captain younger sister.
As Bridget and Mary Grace Ingram, the future law enforcement leaders grew up on the city’s Ocean Avenue.
They went to grade school at St. Michael’s and graduated Holy Spirit High School in 1991 and 1992, respectively.
In 1994, Bridget Ingram won the title of Miss Atlantic City, a title that once acted as an ambassador for the Miss America Pageant.
Their mother, Mary Ingram, has long been a supporter of the department. She was honored in 2008 with a Civilian Service Award.
The plaque called her “the pride and joy and watchful eye of the beach block of Ocean Avenue.”
Photo: Newly appointed Deputy Chief Bridget Pierce, right, with her sister Mary Grace Cooke, who was promoted to captain.