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Citywide surveillance cameras highlight $16.8M plan for Atlantic City

  • State

Atlantic City’s mayor likes to herald a “great day” every time he addresses a group.

But on Monday, it was a multimillion-dollar day.

The governor and other state leaders joined Mayor Marty Small to announce $16.8 million in supplemental state funding for improvements to the city and public safety.

The money is from the closed budget, and is not part of the $60 million set aside for the city next year.

It includes two trucks for the Fire Department, new equipment for Public Works, Boardwalk improvements and expansion, energy efficiency upgrades throughout the city and HVAC upgrades for City Hall.

“These projects represent relief for the taxpayers of Atlantic City,” Small said during a press conference in the Public Works Yard.

But the highlight is a $5 million plan to put surveillance cameras on every street, which will give the Police Department eyes throughout the city around the clock.

“I think this is an absolute game-changer,” acting Police Chief James Sarkos told BreakingAC.

While there are currently “several hundred” city-owned cameras, most of those are on the Boardwalk or within the Tourism District, he pointed out.

“What this is going to allow us to do is put city-owned cameras in the neighborhoods all around Atlantic City, and we’re very happy about that,” he said.

“My commitment is to the residents of Atlantic City. Always has been, always will be,” Small said of focusing on where people live rather than just the areas they visit.

“The Tourism District and everything else is important, but the neighborhoods need to be safe,” he said. “This represents my commitment as your mayor to do the things that need to be done that represents your interests to make sure it’s continually a great day here in the city of Atlantic City.”

It’s not just the cameras but the planned fiber-optics infrastructure that will connect everything, Sarkos explained.

“It’s absolutely a force multiplier,” he said.

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This has long been a dream for Small, the mayor said, harkening to a 2013 trip he spearheaded to East Orange, Essex County.

“We need to get this,” the then-councilman said at the time, during a presentation of East Orange’s system of integrated technology, which included cameras, vehicle location and crime tracking.

Those improvements led to East Orange seeing an approximately 70 percent drop in crime over five years.

The command center was similar to Atlantic City’s Surveillance Center, which was led by Sarkos and rolled out in 2017.

The new system will expand upon that with the additional cameras and license-plant readers that will be in every entrance and exit of the city. Those will be rolled out within a couple weeks and are funded by a separate grant through the Department of Justice.

There will be a reorganization of the Police Department and how officers are deployed, Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver told BreakingAC. That will include working closer with the Atlantic County Sheriff’s Office and the Prosecutor’s Office.

Prosecutor Will Reynolds, who was not able to attend the event, “from Day One has made a commitment to work with us and make sure we address issues like repetitive offenders and things like that,” she said.

Sheriff Eric Scheffler, a retired Atlantic City police officer, said his office is always in communication with the department.

His office’s outreach work complements the work the department does, he noted, pointing to the recent NAACP Convention.

“Within that week our HOPE One mobile outreach put over 39 people in treatment (and) we had three Narcan saves,” Scheffler said.

The convention “allowed us to put on full display the transformation that is happening right here in Atlantic City,” the governor said.

“Every time I come here, there’s something new to see and do,” Gov. Phil Murphy said. “Our job now is to ensure this progress continues. This city’s success is vital not just to the success of South Jersey but, to be sure, all of New Jersey.”

Sunday, May 19, 2024
STEWARTVILLE
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