A coalition of community advocates today announced the launch of a public awareness campaign regarding the significant public safety cuts being pursued by state officials due to the takeover of Atlantic City’s finances.
“Under the guise of fiscal austerity, the safety of the public and visitors to Atlantic City is being gambled on,” said Matt Rogers, President of Atlantic City PBA Local 24. “We are struggling to keep up with an opioid & heroin epidemic and its related increase in violence. These cuts will only make it worse” he concluded.
“Residents are nervous. They are scared. I hear from them every day,” said Pastor James Barclay of the Full Gospel International Outreach Church & Secretary of the Fellowship of Churches of Atlantic City and vicinity. “The number one priority of our elected officials should be the safety of its residents, but here are our state officials turning their backs on that responsibility.”
The campaign, which is currently underway, includes billboards, direct mail, online advertising and multiple grassroots activities including leafleting on the boardwalk and door-to-door canvasing to inform residents.
Atlantic City had 272 firefighters in 2010. It now has 225 and proposed layoffs would bring that number down to 125. The police department had 331 officers in 2011. They are now at 274 and the state want to further cut the police force to 250. In 2015 (the most recent study available), Atlantic City was ranked the second most dangerous city in New Jersey, according to FBI crime statistics.
“If you’re trying to increase the number of visitors to Atlantic City and improve its perception as a family destination, why in the world would you make these types of drastic cuts to public safety?” said Bill Dilorenzo, President of the Firefighters Local 198. “Our call volume for 2016 is up 23% over the previous 5 year average. These cuts are illogical and counter-productive,” he concluded.
“I haven't seen local businesses this concerned in a long time” said Cathy Burke, owner of the Irish Pub. “These types of public safety cuts are bad for business,” she concluded.
DontGambleonSafetyAC is a project of the Alliance for Atlantic City Supervisory Employees, Bishop John Grady of the Ministers Alliance of Atlantic City, PBA Local 24, the New Jersey State AFL-CIO, Professional Firefighters Association (IAFF) Local 198, Teamsters Local 331, AFSCME District Council 71 & ACWCPA. Our mission is to educate the public about the significant negative impact on public safety the state takeover of Atlantic City is having on residents, tourists & workers in Atlantic City. For more information, please visit us at: www.dontgambleonsafetyac.com or on Facebook “Don’t Gamble on Safety AC.”