Community walks, visible law enforcement partnerships and analyzing trends are part of the initiatives an old group with a new name is looking to accomplish.
The Coalition for a Safe Community — formerly Stop the Violence of Atlantic County — met Thursday to discuss future endeavors along with an update on the Pleasantville/Atlantic City Municipal Planning Board.
The board is the sixth in the state that brings together political, religious and city leaders as well as law enforcement to tackle violence from all angles, with a university sponsor: In this case, Richard Stockton College.
Stockton’s Alex Marino gave a presentation to the group highlighting what the other planning boards do, including Vineland and Camden.
Both of those programs have a “Juvenile Delinquency Work Group,” while Vineland also has programs helping single parents and addressing domestic violence.
“The obvious thing is this is very locally based,” said Israel Posner, executive director of the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality and Tourism at Stockton. “There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ template.”
Instead, the group will specifically look at the needs of the communities this board covers.
Those things will include identifying the gaps in youth services and support systems, implementing programs based on evidence of need, and creating sustainable strategies.
“We don’t want to make this a one-hit wonder,” Marino said.
Kaleem Shabazz said plans for the Coalition include resuming walks through the neighborhoods, which were done for 15 weeks straight last year, and two breakfasts that will honor law enforcement. One will be held April 20 at Pleasantville’s New Hope Community Center and the other May 4 at Stockton’s Carnegie Center in Atlantic City.
“We want to highlight law enforcement and say thank you for what they’re doing,” Shabazz said.
The coalition recently changed its name because “many people use the term ‘Stop the Violence,’ but we felt we needed to come up with a title that suggests what we’re doing — making the communities safer,” he said.
Discussions from various members included faith-based initiatives already undertaken by Bishop Robert F. Hargrove, who has been working to have places of worship join with community groups in the cities.
Meanwhile, Lamont Fauntleroy and Allen Thomas have the program Males Engaged in Reducing Violence through Gainful Employment, or MERGE, which has been implemented at Pleasantville High School and addresses violence among males. Services for those ages 14 to 24 include PATTS Class, or Peaceful Alternatives To Tough Situations.
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