Atlantic City Council approved ordinances at its Wednesday meeting that would reduce its legal obligation to police officers working security details and ban realistic toy guns.
It also pulled an ordinance regulating public safety job titles, which Councilman George Tibbitt assured was not because of any possible state or county takeover of the police department.
In the indemnity ordinance, the city’s legal obligations to employees acting “incidental” to the performance of duties is removed and is replaced by “within the scope of” the performance of duties.
The obligation will now be limited to cases where the officer or employee is “acting in a matter in which the City had an interest,” “acting in the discharge of a duty imposed or authorized by law in furtherance of the employee’s official duties,” and “acting in good faith.”
Paul Barbare, president of PBA Local 24, said there was a concern that “the perception is that officers doing something other than patrol are labeled ‘security guards.’”
He also asked that the ordinance be postponed until the next meeting.
Councilman Mo Delgado said that the issue was with officers placed on special duty, contracted through a private entity to support security.
Several such officers have been sued by casino patrons claiming brutality, costing the city millions.
“We don’t want you in the bar security business,” Councilman George Tibbitt said.
When officers are called in, then they’re on duty and will be supported, Council President William Marsh added.
The toy gun ordinance, introduced by all of council and initiated by Police Lt. James Sarkos, bans the sale, possession or use of any imitation firearms — except for non-firing antiques and film prop guns — which aren’t in bright, flourescent colors or transparent. Pistols that use metal caps are banned from being sold to minors.
“We’ve gotten a lot of phone calls from D.C. and Philadelphia,” Tibbitt said. “This is catching on. This may be saying some lives,” Marsh said.
Regarding the public safety job titles, Tibbitt said that “this has nothing to do with moving anywhere.”
Fire and police will be taking over many duties currently done by other departments, he said, and the ordinance needs to be amended to reflect that.
“This has zero to do with anybody losing their job to anybody,” Tibbitt said. “his is an in-house thing, because we’re doing more with less until that does or doesn’t happen.”
Contact Steven Lemongello:
@ACPress_Steve on Twitter