A recent fatal shooting showed all too well how violence crosses borders, officials say.
Quadir Lampkin, an Atlantic City teen, was gunned down inside a car as his friends drove home from a party at Hamilton Township's Cologne firehouse.
"There is definitely a connection," Pleasantville Police Capt. Jose Ruiz said of recent shootings, which included three men wounded at the city's Sassafras Run apartments, "which is why we should all be working together."
The group work began with "Stop the Violence in Atlantic County," a task force that includes law enforcement and elected officials from throughout the county. Now, a series of town-hall meetings aims at getting the public involved.
On Thursday, Pleasantville will host its first event, "Parents Search Your Child's Room" at the Faith Baptist Church. The meeting will include a video from New York state Sen. Eric Adams, showing parents how to search rooms in their home to make sure nothing illegal is inside.
"It is your obligation and responsibility not only to protect your child that may be using drugs or handguns, but you also have to protect the others in the household (such as) younger brothers and sisters," Adams says on the video.
"We want parents to police their children before we have to," Pleasantville police Capt. Jose Ruiz said.
He noted that in recent years, those involved with guns have gotten younger.
"We're seeing them as young as 15 and 16," he said.
In the last week of May, two Atlantic County men died: Lampkin, 19, and Antwon Ward, 20, of Pleasantville. Ward had been out of prison only three months, having gone through a program meant to help him be a good father.
"Hopefully (the town hall) is going to generate a dialogue," said Pleasantville Mayor Jesse Tweedle, who said the tagline of each meeting will be "Because We Care."
In addition to Pleasantville panelists, experts will include Atlantic County Prosecutor Ted Housel, Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford and Atlantic City Deputy Chief Ernest Jubilee. Tweedle said mayors from other areas will also be invited to be part of the discussion.
The public may ask questions. Microphones will be provided, but Tweedle said those who don't want to ask publicly can write their questions on cards to be read aloud, without names.
"We want to be very candid and give them correct answers," he said.
"We just want to urge all concerned parents to come out," Ruiz said. "Our main goal is just for them to get involved with their kids."
He invited parents to bring their children to the police station and let him to talk to them about the consequences of drugs and guns.
"We want to see them before anything happens," Tweedle said, "not after."
Contact Lynda Cohen:
If you goPleasantville Mayor Jesse Tweedle will host the Town Hall “Parents Search Your Child’s Room” from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Faith Baptist Church, 829 Tilton Road, Pleasantville. Thelma Witherspoon, of WEHA 88.7 FM will be the moderator. For more information, call 609-418-9068.