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Atlantic City looks to put police in schools, increase presence on Atlantic Ave.

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Atlantic City is looking at ways to make the schools and streets safer, the mayor and acting police chief said at a news conference Thursday afternoon.

The city has applied for a $450,000 grant that would put a police officer in each of the city’s 11 schools.

“Atlantic City always wants to be prepared,” Mayor Marty Small Sr. said. “It’s the old adage, rather have options and not need them than need options and not have them.”

The officers would be Class III, meaning they are former police officers retired for no more than three years, Acting Chief James Sarkos explained.

There are some retired officers currently working in the city’s Surveillance Center as police aides, with others working as Class IIs.

This would add another level of protection in the schools and increase the strong support system between the administration, police and school system, the leaders explained.

The school district is led by Small’s wife, Superintendent Dr. La’Quetta Small. Retired Police Chief Ernest Jubilee is the district’s public safety coordinator. Neither was not part of the public announcement.

The Class III officers would make $35 an hour, which Sarkos said is a competitive rate that should elicit top candidates.

The mayor is confident the city will be awarded the one-year grant, with city funding after that expires.

But the search for officers will begin soon, even though the grant decision is not expected until October.

“If we are not successful in getting the grant, we’re looking to fund it by other means,” Sarkos told BreakingAC.

The goal is to eventually have two officers in each school, Small said.

“We want to prioritize safety,” he said.

The Police Department is also looking to increase its ranks on the street by using grant money to add 15 Neighborhood Coordination Officers.

The NCO Program began in 2019, putting two officers in each of the six wards, along with four in homeless outreach that walk the beat and get to be familiar faces to those neighbors and businesses.

The city is also looking to get aggressive in cracking down on problems along Atlantic Avenue, Small and Sarkos said.

Complaints are especially centered on businesses that don’t close, with loitering being a main issue, Sarkos said.

In addition to police presence, the city is looking to hire police aides to assist on Atlantic Avenue.

These aides would act in a similar capacity to the Boardwalk ambassadors, Sarkos told BreakingAC.

They will watch cameras and also interact with people. They cannot carry guns but will have the power to write tickets.

The state is “wholeheartedly onboard” with the plans, Small said.

“This administration takes all of these matters extremely seriously,” he added.

Sunday, May 19, 2024
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