Atlantic City finding new ways to stem violence, serve all residents
Those who once wreaked havoc on Atlantic City’s streets will now be a major part in helping save them, Mayor Marty Small said Thursday, as he laid out several initiatives his administration is enacting.
One Neighborhood Evolution will use so-called interrupters or violence preventers to stop violence at its source.
“It’s very easy to just say (the source of violence is) gang members who are quarreling back and forth,” Officer in Charge James Sarkos said. “But when you really break it down and look at it, it’s conflicts that occur that could have been resolved if you had an intervener.”
Things like girls, disrespect over social media or even arguments sparked by rumors can be traced to the violence, Sarkos noted.
Now, there will be people who have the respect of the streets who will be able to join these factions and reach a resolution.
“These are people who have history in the street,” Small explained. “However they’re fully rehabilitated and ready to help the city they once helped to destroy.”
Sarkos said that about year and a half ago, the mayor came to the Atlantic City Police Foundation with the plan for One Neighborhood Evolution. The foundation, a nonprofit that helps fund policing initiatives and equipment that the budget doesn’t cover, funded a pilot for six months.
The yet-to-be-determined group is just part of the new Division of Youth, Recreation, Senior and Multi-Cultural Services that Small said will focus on those who have been skipped over for services.
That will include the LGTBQ community, he said.
“That is a growing community,” Small said. “We want to be able to serve them in any way we can. … This administration is really stepping up to the plate and serving the entire city of Atlantic City.”
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