Atlantic City police are finding new ways to use their seasonal officers - including increasing street presence with foot patrols.
The 30 Special Law Enforcement Officer IIs, or Class II officers, will be patrolling both the Boardwalk and Pacific Avenue this summer, making police more visible on the streets, Chief Ernest Jubilee said.
On Wednesday, Class II Officer Tyler Daily walked a Boardwalk beat alone, around Albany Avenue. Daily is one of four Class IIs returning from last year who is already on foot patrol.
The other new officers are still going through training, which includes riding along with full-time officers and doing patrols in the city's neighborhoods with field training officers.
"I think it's a good idea," Arlene Raffa said as she sat on the Boardwalk enjoying the hot weather.
She and Jim Booth, both of Penns Grove, Salem County, visit Atlantic City often and enjoy the Boardwalk. Booth said he noticed fewer homeless people looking for money during a recent visit than they had seen on previous occasions.
As for Pacific Avenue, "I don't even know where that is," he said, adding: "Except for on the Monopoly board."
"Having more police is a great deterrent of crime," said Anthony Kukal, of Millville, who visits the city often and sends his three children, ages 6 to 11, to the Apple Store's camp in The Pier at Caesars. "People feel safer seeing police."
Nisar Ahmad likes seeing a police presence. The owner of Shore Gifts on the Boardwalk at Bellevue Avenue has watched police officers keeping an eye on businesses - and those who are causing trouble. Many of those who seem to be lurking move on when they see the officers, he said.
"That's a good sign," said Ahmad, 47, who lives in the city.
This is the second year Atlantic City will use the Class II officers, who are paid hourly rather than salaried and don't receive benefits. They have full police powers while on duty, but not outside their set hours or the city's borders.
"The first year, we didn't know what to expect," Jubilee said. "After using them last summer, we found out how great of an asset they were and are expanding their duties to Pacific Avenue."
In addition to walking patrols on the Boardwalk and Pacific Avenue - which currently includes an overnight beat that ends at 2 a.m. - the officers also man the metal detectors at the Public Safety Building and City Hall, along with another officer on City Hall's seventh floor, where the Mayor's Office is.
Full-time officers used to do these duties, but now they are free to work the city's more troubled areas.
The officers can work 48 hours per week during the tourist season, then are limited to 20 hours per week starting in mid-October. The plan is to keep those additional officers on year-round, as they did last year, Jubilee said.
Only four Class IIs remain from the original group, including Daily, after many took full-time jobs with the Camden police department.
The new Class IIs will finish their training next week, when their field training officers will submit final reports as to how they did. If any of them require additional training, that will be taken care of, Jubilee said. Then, they will be sent out on their assignments alone.
"Hopefully, we can get additional (Class IIs)," Jubilee said. "The ordinance calls for 35 so, as far as I'm concerned, we can add a few more."
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