We’re moving forward.
The opening of the new Stockton University campus, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and Ocean Resort Casino have brought more people and jobs to Atlantic City, which brings new energy to the Boardwalk. Yes, Atlantic City is moving in the right direction. Atlantic City will be a city for us all, if we continue the renewed focus on both business development and improving the quality of life for its residents.
It’s not a question of either/or. We are a city focused on both/and. In keeping with this theme, Wall Street has given us nods of encouragement. Both of the largest credit rating agencies in the country, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s, have upgraded the city’s credit rating due to the financial steps recently taken and those steps recommended in Atlantic City: Building a Foundation for a Shared Prosperity.
Additionally, the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority made a significant down payment on its investment in the people of Atlantic City. The CRDA is investing as much as $187,000 to begin work to bring a full-service supermarket to the city. City Hall also hosted the inaugural meeting of the Atlantic City Executive Council, which brought together many of the stakeholders in the Atlantic City area. The purpose of the ACEC is to ensure that the citizenry of Atlantic City have a voice and a chance to share in the future prosperity of the city in which they live.
Real progress requires us to look at the hard issues, and we’re doing that. While public safety has improved in the city, we continue to struggle with the effects of the opioid crisis and high levels of violence. We know that we can do better, we must do better. Deeper community engagement and open lines of communication will only help us become better problem solvers and ensure that the police are more equipped to do their jobs. In the vein of public safety and inclusiveness, we want to create a Citizen’s Advisory Board for the Police Department.
The CAB would work with the Police Department on proactive problem solving to improve the quality of life in each Atlantic City community. The CAB will have a member representing each civic association and one member from the Boardwalk Committee. Three members will also be appointed by the mayor, three members appointed by City Council, and one member appointed by the Atlantic City Board of Education. The CAB will then appoint two youth members from the community.
The current plan is for the CAB to meet once a month in a closed working session. Once a quarter, the CAB would hold a public meeting. We believe this board will create a conduit for public input into policing strategies and help the police identify best practices from across the nation. It would also establish a formal system of mutual accountability; CAB members and the Police Department would have to report to each other regarding their respective progress on key initiatives.
The CAB was one of the public safety recommendations found in the recent report, Atlantic City: Building a Foundation for a Shared Prosperity, released by Gov. Phil Murphy and Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver last month. It has the strong support of the mayor, the City Council president, the chief of police and the Atlantic City civic associations. All of us believe that this is another important step as we rise together.
The ordinance that would establish the Citizen’s Advisory Board will come before City Council for the first reading on Wednesday. We encourage you to provide your input.
Frank M. Gilliam Jr. is mayor of Atlantic City, and Marty Small Sr. is City Council president.