ATLANTIC CITY — The Atlantic City Executive Council addressed a growing concern about gun violence in the city Tuesday morning during its monthly meeting.
There have been 15 shootings in the city in 2019, resulting in six deaths, according to Press of Atlantic City records.
Two other homicides — a stabbing and a beating — also occurred in the city this year. In 2018, there were seven homicides, according to the Atlantic City Police Department.
“If we forget that we have a lot of work to do, this is a tragic reminder that we have a tremendous amount of work to get done in this city,” Jim Johnson, special counsel to Gov. Phil Murphy and co-author of the state’s transition report on Atlantic City, told the gathered stakeholders who make up the Executive Council. “Even as we’re doing everything else, we have to respond to the crisis.”
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Johnson said discussions about a coordinated response to the recent gun violence in Atlantic City, particularly as it pertains to young people, began in late June.
The result was a work opportunity program, organized by Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City co-owner Joe Jingoli, the Rev. Collins A. Days Sr., Bishop R. Fulton Hargrove and others, that began July 9 for 20 youths in Atlantic City who were identified by law enforcement, the community and their parents as being most “seriously at risk” of being involved in a shooting, either as a victim or a perpetrator.
On Monday, Murphy, Johnson, Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, Mayor Frank Gilliam Jr. and a collection of faith, business and civic leaders participated in a conference call to address several issues in the city, including gun violence.
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Oliver, who leads the Executive Council meetings and serves as commissioner of the state Department of Community Affairs, which has direct oversight of Atlantic City following the 2016 takeover, said the issue of gun violence was of “paramount importance” in the city.
The DCA has provided funding for summer recreational opportunities for about 200 youth through the Boys and Girls Club of Atlantic City. The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority voted Tuesday to approve funding to support an additional 200 city youth through the Police Athletic League.
The lieutenant governor said public safety concerns could stifle the council’s efforts to attract new economic opportunities since investors and developers are less likely to be attracted to an area with significant violence.
“Progress has been made on a lot of fronts ... and we are very focused on prioritizing further economic development in the city,” Oliver said. “We feel that it is imperative that we make certain that we create a safe environment in the City of Atlantic City.”
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But, Oliver stressed, it was the residents who are most impacted.
“At the end of the day, the people who are the residents of Atlantic City, many of them who have been here for generations, they don’t intend to go anywhere, and they’re deserving of a good life,” she said.