I like Christine Petersen, the director of public safety in Atlantic City. And I think she had no idea what she was getting into when she came to the resort after a 25-year career as a Jersey City police officer. Atlantic City chews up outsiders. Always has. It’s just that kind of place.

I don’t know if Petersen is really overstepping the bounds of her authority as the civilian head of the police and fire departments  — which is what the police union is claiming in a lawsuit. But I do know this:

They would have accused her of that — or something else — whether she was doing it or not.

Most of the department, I would venture to say, didn’t want a civilian public-safety director over them — period. They sure didn’t want a woman. And they especially didn’t want a black woman. Petersen never had a chance.

How dare I say that?

What’s my evidence?

Well, it’s not the kind of thing you get evidence for (unless maybe you plant a bug under the bar at the Irish Pub). Who’s going to admit it? But I’ve lived here my whole life. I’ve been in journalism here for almost 30 years. And if you want to call this mere speculation on my part, so be it. But I’m pretty damn sure I’m right. And somebody needed to say it before Petersen gets burned at the stake.

She may yet turn this around. But the union has already sicced the Pension Board on her, which decided she didn’t wait the requisite six months between leaving Jersey City and taking the A.C. job and therefore shouldn’t have been collecting her Jersey City pension.

The union was just looking out for taxpayers, of course — you know, the same guys who have robbing Atlantic City taxpayers blind for decades with their outrageous terminal-leave payments for unused sick and vacation time. It’s just amazing to me that a department that has virtually no modern computer equipment can tell to a day how much sick time some veteran officer did or didn’t take 20 years ago.

So good luck, Christine. You need it.


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