Atlantic City police sergeant honored for creating at-risk partnership

brian shapiro

An Atlantic City police sergeant’s idea to join various entities to help the at-risk population was honored by the state attorney general.

Brian Shapiro and the Atlantic City Police Department were one of six recipients statewide honored for excellence in policing.

The Outstanding Community Partnership Award acknowledges Shapiro’s work coordinating individuals and organizations to find help for the city’s at-risk community.

“To be able to take a look at how are we going to work and help people who suffer from mental illness, homelessness and substance abuse to offer engagement, education and we try to use enforcement as a last resort,” he said.

The foundation of that, he said, is “professional empathy.”

“By coordinating these efforts, Sgt. Shapiro ensured that individuals who needed help were able to connect with the appropriate resources more quickly and efficiently,” a statement from the Attorney General’s Office read. “Thanks to Sgt. Shapiro’s initiative, at-risk individuals in Atlantic City were able to receive the care and support they needed to improve their health and well-being. Additionally, businesses and other organizations in the area were able to see the benefits of this coordinated approach, as it helped to resolve issues more quickly and effectively.”

Shapiro used as an example someone trespassing at a casino. Defiant trespass is the what, he explained, but it’s not the full story.

“I think what we need to look at is not just the what but we have to move into the why,” he said. “We do that collaboratively,” he said. “When we get to the why it helps us build how: ‘How are we going to help this individual?’

“You’ve go to live it,” he added. “You’ve got to have passion to make change for other people that have lost their way.”

Police Chief James Sarkos thanked the Attorney General’s Office for recognizing the initiative.

“I am extremely proud of the work Sergeant Shapiro and the Atlantic City Police Department are providing to the at-risk population,” he said. “This initiative is successful because of the various public and private stake holders working together.”

Shapiro stressed that the work is not his alone.

“It’s every single person that I could probably go on and on and on and talk about that has given me the ability to have an audience with them,” he said.

“I promise you, if you give me some of your precious time, whether you’re an organization or an individual, we can do this together,” he added. “And I think it’s contagious.”