ATLANTIC CITY — Dialogue and communication are essential in a relationship between law enforcement and the community, Atlantic County Prosecutor Jim McClain said Tuesday night during the Coalition for a Safe Community’s annual report to the public.

McClain was the keynote speaker at the nearly two-hour event at the Carnegie Center. The report featured multiple pubic figures, highlighted the organization’s programs and emphasized the importance of community involvement in preventing violence.

McClain referenced recent nationwide events involving police killings in New York City, Cleveland and Ferguson, Missouri. He said those situations are largely the result of a historically fractured relationship, a lack of dialogue and a lack of connection between law enforcement and the community. He said with the help of the Coalition for a Safe Community, whose leaders include the mayors of Atlantic City and Pleasantville, local law-enforcement agencies and faith-based groups, the issues highlighted by Ferguson have already been addressed in Atlantic City and Pleasantville for four years now.

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“I absolutely could not be prouder to say the situation in Ferguson does not exist here in Atlantic City and Pleasantville, largely because of this organization,” McClain said.

The report highlighted programs the group has organized over the past few years that help law enforcement engage with the community. One such program was Friday Night Walks, in which government officials, clergy and members of law enforcement walked through a number of neighborhoods in Atlantic City and talked with residents.

Atlantic City Police Chief Henry White said the work done by the coalition has helped prevent crime. He said Atlantic City has seen historic lows in murders and attributed a lot of that success to the organization.

“If they trust us, they’ll be more apt to engage with us, give us information when it’s needed,” White said. “When there’s a lack of trust in the community between the citizens and the police, then you’ll see there’s a corresponding increase in crime.”

Contact Christian Hetrick:

609-272-7215

Press copy editor since 2006, copy desk chief since 2014. Masters in journalism from Temple University, 2006. My weekly comics blog, Wednesday Morning Quarterback, appears Wednesday mornings at PressofAC.com.

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