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Atlantic City finally getting police civilian review board

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Atlantic City’s long-discussed public safety civilian review board is expected to finally become a reality. Council unanimously approved an ordinance this week to create a new incarnation of the old idea that will act as somewhat of a liaison between the police and the public. The 15-member board would include two youth members ages 18 to 25, a representative from each of the city’s civic associations and then three nominated by council, three by the mayor and one by the Board of Education. “We’ll have a lot of stakeholders at the table,” said City Council President Marty Small, who was on council when the board was voted on six years ago. Unlike the 2012 ordinance that first established a Civilian Advisory Board — which never came to be — this one would have no legal powers.
2018 ORDINANCE The 2012 ordinance hit some snags as leaders looked to make it an investigatory arm that would look into allegations of police brutality, harassment and abuse of authority. That brought into question whether the board could even do its job unless granted the power to subpoena witnesses. This board instead will look at solving any problems in a collaborative way. The members also would report on public safety and law enforcement trends and be a bridge between the public and public safety, and compile information about best practices throughout the country. The board will also give residents the opportunity to give “informed feedback on the performance of the police department with respect to public safety concerns and quality of police community relations.” The board was part of the recommendations made in Special Counsel Jim Johnson's Atlantic City Report. “People kept asking why we didn’t enact it (the first time),” said Councilman Aaron “Sporty” Randolph, who sponsored the ordinance with Councilman Kaleem Shabazz. “When it came back again (in Johnson’s report), we said we were going to put some teeth into it,” said Randolph, who was in his first year on council in 2012. He said they are in the process of picking candidates. Last time, “it just faded away,” Randolph said. “This time it won’t.”

Lynda Cohen

BreakingAC founder who previously worked in newspapers for more than two decades. She is an NJPA award-winner and was a Stories of Atlantic City fellow.




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