Atlantic City Council Backs Police Chief After Use-of-Force Report

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The City of Atlantic City Council voted 9-0 to issue a vote of confidence in Police Chief Henry White, following a series of articles from NJ Advance Media based on data that showed the Atlantic City Police Department used force at a higher rate than any other municipality in the state except one (Maplewood).

According to the data, which NJ Advance says is based on more than 72,000 force reports that 12 reporters spent 16 months collecting and plugging into a database, police use force in about 3% of arrests statewide. In Atlantic City, the rate is 11%. In an op-ed on New Year’s Eve, the publication called for an outside audit followed by a “thorough housecleaning” and said the city is a “national punchline for horrid management. Nobody’s laughing anymore.”

In introducing the resolution, Council President Marty Small said, “As you know, some salacious articles and editorials has come out about our fine men and women in blue of the Atlantic City Police Department.”

Small said a lot of the data in the NJAM report was “historical” and since White has been chief, “the entire culture of the police department has changed from internal affairs to community relations between the police and community and just the overall attitude of the police department.”

“Unfortunately a lot of people get caught up in headlines and it kind of distorts the facts.”

The resolution cited “significant efforts to adopt technology and modern community policing techniques” including the new surveillance center, community walks, a junior police academy and increased PAL activities. “Through Chief White’s efforts and leadership, the city has experienced a significant reduction in crime and a dramatic drop in new excessive force cases,” the resolution said.

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