ATLANTIC CITY — The issue of police brutality dominated the public portion of Wednesday’s City Council meeting.
The meeting was the council’s first since video of the June alleged beating of Linwood man David Connor Castellani by Atlantic City Police Officers went viral.
Steven Young, president of the local chapter of civil-rights organization National Action Network, was one of four who addressed the council. He said the incident is just the latest and most widely publicized example of a trend that’s long plagued Atlantic City.
“Our whole country has seen our police officers beat someone in Atlantic City, near a casino,” Young said before the council and about a dozen attendees. “What does that show if we don’t do anything about it?”
Atlantic City resident Tanisha Bailey also spoke before the council about an April incident in which she claims she and her brother were abused by officers after she called to report an attack on her by her child’s father.
It was her third time speaking before the council, she said.
“With all the incidents going on with police brutality, I’ve come here two times, and my questions have been brushed under the rug,” she said.
Bailey and her brother were charged in the incident, and there are ongoing criminal and Internal Affairs investigations. After her statement, Council President William Marsh said he would look into expediting her case.
The National Action Network has long petitioned the council to create a Civilian Review Board through which citizens could voice complaints directly to the Police Department, Young said, but the two sides could not agree on its structure.
Council Vice President Frank Gilliam Jr. said council has looked into expediting the creation of a review board following the June incident and hopes to discuss it with the community at its next meeting.
“It’s time for us on this council to do something,” Gilliam said. “I agree, every last one of us up here, agrees to do something.”
Investigation of the June incident has been elevated above the Atlantic City Police Department and it is currently under review by the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, Councilman George Tibbitt said.
Deputy Police Chief Henry White said the department is looking into equipping K-9 officers with video and audio recording equipment that would document possible abuses. If the program is successful, it would be implemented across the board. There is currently no timetable for a rollout, he said.
White said the department is working to ensure the public’s trust in the department.
”If we don’t have the confidence of the public, we don’t have anything,” he said. “We’re doing everything we can. We’re not overlooking these complaints.”
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