Atlantic City’s police finally have a chief after nearly two years.
James Sarkos, who has been officer in charges since former Chief Henry White retired in October 2020, was named acting chief effective Wednesday.
Jacquelyn Suarez, director of the Division of Local Government Services, made the appointment under the Municipal Stabilization and Recovery Act, the governor announced this week.
It was not clear when a permanent choice would be made for the position.
Mayor Marty Small has long said he supports Sarkos in that capacity.
“I have shown unwavering support for Chief Sarkos from day one,” Small said. “I believe in upward mobility from the ranks and this decision shows that. I have full faith in his ability to make meaningful changes to our department and be the true leader that we need for the fine men and women in blue of the Atlantic City Police Department.”
Sarkos, who is one of two deputy chiefs in the department, started his law enforcement career in Ventnor as a Class I Special Law Enforcement Officer in 1995. He worked as a Class II officer in Wildwood during the summers from 1996 to 1999.
He joined Atlantic City in October 2000, and was promoted to sergeant in 2006. He became a lieutenant in 2011. When he was promoted to captain in 2016, he had the highest score on the test in the state.
Sarkos has been a deputy chief since 2018. He has supervised patrol, criminal investigations and vice.
He has also led the city’s SWAT team.
“Throughout his tenure as interim officer in charge, Deputy Chief Sarkos has distinguished himself as an exemplary leader of the Atlantic City Police Department and the community he has committed his life to protect,” Gov. Phil Murphy said. “He has made progress in strengthening the relationship between law enforcement and the community they serve, and I am confident he will continue to be a valuable partner in our shared mission to see Atlantic City thrive.”
Sarkos was instrumental in creating the current surveillance center, and was a founding member of the Atlantic City Police Foundation, which helps pay for necessities that cannot be covered by the budget.
“Interim Officer Sarkos’ collaboration with division staff on the development of a new deployment plan designed to enhance the life of Atlantic City’s residents and visitors demonstrates his innovative leadership skills and effective management style,” Suarez said. “This new deployment plan is designed to include CITISTAT and COMPSTAT programs that have been proven successful in many cities throughout the country. Atlantic City residents will have the opportunity to participate in bi-weekly meetings with the ACPD, Atlantic City officials, and community leaders on joint initiatives focused on problem solving, quality of life issues, and criminal activity that will make Atlantic City a better place to live, work, and play.”
While serving as interim officer in charge, Sarkos “has led the Atlantic City Police Department with honor and integrity,” Sen. Vince Polistina said “Atlantic City and New Jersey are lucky to have him as acting chief of the Atlantic City Police Department as he works to make our state stronger and safer. I congratulate him and thank him for his service as he takes on this new role.”
Assemblyman Don Guardian, a former Atlantic City mayor, called Sarkos “an honorable and accomplished leader who has demonstrated a real commitment to public service and cares deeply for the community he serves.”
“I am confident that he will lead the department with a strong sense of principle,” Guardian said. “I look forward to seeing his future accomplishments as Acting Chief of the Atlantic City Police Department.”
Sarkos has received 15 departmental commendations throughout his career, 12 awards from the PBA, including three lifesaving medals and supervisor of the year. He also received a valor award from the American Legion, two from the 200 Club, along with a certificate of commendation.
“I am grateful for the continued confidence placed in me by city and state leadership,” the acting chief said. “I look forward to continuing to serve the residents and visitors of this great city. It remains my honor to lead the dedicated and courageous Officers of the Atlantic City Police Department.”
Sarkos was also recognized by the Bangladeshi Association of Atlantic County for dedication and services to the Atlantic City Community, received certificates of appreciation from Stockton University and the United States Secret Service, and was the recipient of the Atlantic Cape Community College President’s Distinguished Alumni Award.
He received his associates degree in Criminal Justice from Atlantic Cape Community College, a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice from Stockton University, and a Master of Arts degree from Seton Hall University Police Graduates Studies Program in Human Resources Training and Development.