ATLANTIC CITY — The Police Department promoted 27 people Monday morning in the largest single promotion ceremony ever held for city law enforcement.
The department elevated 24 officers to the rank of sergeant and promoted three special law enforcement Class II officers to full-time cops during a swearing-in ceremony at the Atlantic City Convention Center. The department now has a total of 57 sergeants, who earn a starting salary of $100,000 per year.
Chief Henry White told the promoted sergeants that they were the “most important and most critical” supervisory ranks in the department. White said they now had a “burden put on each one of your shoulders to inspire and motivate our officers to go out and service our community.”
“They are the ones that are closest to our rank-and-file officers,” White said. “And when someone judges our police department on our efficiency and our effectiveness, they do that based on their interaction with our rank-and-file officers because that’s who the public sees on a daily basis. And these sergeants, who are about to get promoted ... it’s their job to inspire, to motivate, to train, to coach the rank-and-file officers to do what needs to be done.”
The new sergeants will begin in-house supervisory training Tuesday, White said.
Sergeants are responsible for supervising more than 300 public safety employees, including 186 rank-and-file officers, special law enforcement officers and civilian workers.
Mayor Marty Small Sr. implored the elevated officers to “continue to do what got you here,” during his first swearing-in ceremony for the police department. Small also applauded the group’s diverse makeup.
“This is what diversity looks like,” Small said, “and we want to continue to promote that (with) all of the decisions that we make. These people are highly qualified ... and I couldn’t ask for a better group.”
Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon Tyner encouraged the sergeants to use lessons learned from who they consider to be great leaders in their new positions.
“Take this as an opportunity to leave a legacy of your career, to make an imprint on that Class II that’s becoming a police officer,” Tyner said. “Be that type of leader.”
The 24 sergeants were selected from nearly 100 applicants, according to White. The promotions were conducted without using civil service, a process that was eliminated when the state assumed control of the city in 2016.
The union that represents the department, Police Benevolent Association Local 24, is engaged in a legal battle with the state to reinstate civil service for its members, citing the uncertainty in regards to how officers are promoted, hired and disciplined.
“It’s a little bittersweet as we still have an active lawsuit going,” said Matt Rogers, the union’s president. “So, happy for everyone and congratulations to all, but we’re still going to push forward and try to get some sort of substance back to the promotional process and how they hire.”