Atlantic City unveils new technology to fight crime, solve urban problems

DEVCO president Chris Paladino said the third phase of the Stockton development was underway. The second phase, which is building a new residence hall on the university’s Atlantic City campus, is nearing completion, he said. The second phase of residence halls is expected to open to student residences by 2023.

ATLANTIC CITY — Two technologies to help major cities fight crime and better manage municipal services are about to make their debut here, state and local officials said Wednesday at a symposium at Stockton University’s city campus.

“Both programs emphasize accountability,” said Rob Long, deputy commissioner of the state Department of Community Affairs, which oversees the city under the state’s takeover.

Long said DCA is working with Stockton, the city and its police department to bring the CitiStat and CompStat programs to the city.

The CitiStat system will allow residents and others to report potholes, non-working street lights, garbage collection and code enforcement issues, among others.

City department heads and other staff will meet with the public every two weeks to report on the progress of the program.

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The first meeting will be held in November. 16 On the city campus in Stockton, in the Fannie Lou Hamer room. The time will be announced on the city’s website, according to officials.

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Jacqueline Suarez, DCA’s director of local government services, said she’s heard residents, tourists and business owners ask for one thing many times: keep Atlantic City clean and safe.

“It’s everyone’s mantra,” Suarez said, adding that the projects would help achieve a cleaner, safer city.

CitiStat, which debuted in Baltimore, has seen significant improvements in city service and efficiency, Long said.

The CompStat system, pioneered by the NYPD, will provide data collection and analysis so Atlantic City police can better prevent and combat crime.

“It holds police managers accountable for the performance of their subordinates,” Long said, and helps determine where to deploy troops to reduce and prevent criminal activity.

Since 2017, the city has been using risk terrain modeling developed by Rutgers University to analyze crime patterns and identify crime hotspots. It also uses the ProPhoenix public safety software program to provide CompStat with successful information and statistics, according to DCA.

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CitiStat and CompStat will debut alongside the new police deployment plan, Suarez said.

Acting Police Chief James Sarkos said the new deployment system will be activated in February and will maximize police visibility, increase the number of community coordinators assigned to communities and move troops from eight-hour shifts Converted to 11-hour shifts.

“The goal is to raise awareness,” Sarkos said. He is working with the state government to secure grants for more officers, especially the NCO program.

These new technologies will be aided by security cameras, which will soon be installed in all urban communities, paid for by new state funding, and the ShotSpotter gunshot-audio detection system is already in use, Suarez said.

The city will soon install license plate readers at all entrances and exits to alert police to stolen vehicles entering town or vehicles owned by people with outstanding search warrants.

PBA President Jules Schwenger said after the meeting that she hoped the new program would make positive progress, but she was concerned about staffing levels.

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The force now has 257 officers, she said, and officers are regularly lost to other departments. It needs to be around 330, she said.

Marisa Levy, a Stockton professor and dean of the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences who has worked with the NYPD, has been working with the Atlantic City Police Department for the past few months on how best to use CompStat, she said.

“CompStat is about accountability, from the officers on the street to the chain of command, and finally the people in charge who are accountable to citizens,” Levy said. “It allows for an interactive process.”

It is believed to reduce crime rates by 50 to 60 percent and has been used by police departments around the world, Levy said in New York.

Lieutenant Kevin Fair gave a brief introduction to the CompStat program using city data.

The plan shows a 22% increase in demand for services so far this year compared to the same period last year.

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He also showed the report page, which includes a heatmap of various types of criminal activity over the previous two weeks, service calls by type, and a breakdown showing which times of day and days of the week generate the most police calls.

While there was an increase in calls on Friday and Saturday, it wasn’t much more than every other day, the report said.

It also tracks which types of crime are increasing and which are decreasing. In the past two weeks, shoplifting has increased by 36 percent, while motor vehicle thefts have fallen from eight to two, the report showed.

Wednesday’s event drew police and other city workers, as well as city and state officials, a combination that, in one instance, led to political fireworks.

This happened when Mayor Marty Small Sr. used his podium time to denounce the state senator for 10 minutes. R-Atlantic’s Vince Polistina on Polistina’s criticism of the city’s lack of safety and cleanliness.

Polistina, who was in attendance, recently wrote a letter to Small, which he made public, accusing Small of turning their differences over governance into a personal vendetta. Polistina also further criticized Small’s leadership in the letter.

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Small has repeatedly accused Polistina of backing a successful petition to push for a nonpartisan election, an accusation that Polistina has denied.

Questions about changing party elections will be voted on on November 8.

Reporter: Michelle Brunetti Post


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