ATLANTIC CITY — The city’s Police Department took a step toward increasing its community policing efforts Friday afternoon when it added 18 officers to the force — the largest group of new officers added to the department in the past five years.

“Everybody is counting on you,” Chief Henry White Jr. told the officers before they were sworn in. “And counting on us to do the best we can do to serve and protect this community.”

As the 18 men and women, all of whom transitioned from part-time, Class II Special Law Enforcement Officers, took the oath in a crowded City Council chambers, family and friends cheered, clapped and whistled.

With their addition, the department now has a total of 267 officers.

Matthew Stollenwerk, 23, of Atlantic City, said it felt “really good” to be sworn in as a member of the Police Department, adding he “can’t wait to serve the community.”

White, Deputy Chief James Sarkos, Council President Marty Small and Mayor Frank Gilliam all spoke about the combined efforts of the state, city and the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, which funded a majority of the new officers.

Last month, the CRDA voted to provide $7.5 million over five years to allow the department to hire 15 officers as part of a community policing initiative. The idea is that adding more officers will free up a dozen veteran officers, who will be assigned to the city’s six wards in pairs as Neighborhood Coordination Officers, along with three officers who will be assigned to address vagrancy and homelessness in the Tourism District.

During a meeting of the city’s Boardwalk Committee on April 10, police Capt. Rudy Lushina said the veteran officers in each ward will help with issues residents have troubling navigating, including reporting buildings that need to be boarded up, litter or problems with neighbors and other quality-of-life issues.

Officers will hand out business cards with their city-assigned cellphone number for residents to contact them, Lushina said.

“Our goal is to not frustrate the citizens, but give them the best help they can when they call one number,” he said, adding it’s “designed to do long-term problem-solving.”

Increasing the number of officers and expanding community policing were mentioned as goals in both the department’s 2018 end-of-year report and a plan released by the state this week.

The implementation plan, prepared by Jim Johnson, special counsel to Gov. Phil Murphy and co-author of the state’s Atlantic City transition report, called for a full assessment of the department’s workforce capacity with a goal of increasing community policing through hiring new staff and Neighborhood Coordination Officers.

White said after the ceremony that the group is the largest he can remember being sworn in at once since he became chief in 2014.

“The more officers we get, the more robust we can be with our community policing initiative,” White said, adding the department is going to roll out the plan in the next three weeks.

This is the second time so far this year the department is adding full-time officers to the force. In February, seven Class IIs were elevated to police officers during a ceremony at City Hall, where seven officers were also promoted to the rank of lieutenant.