Legislation sponsored by Senator Jeff Van Drew to increase police presence in Atlantic City by creating a Joint Law Enforcement Task Force within the New Jersey State Police was approved by a Senate Committee.
The premise of the bill was contained in legislation introduced by Senator Van Drew in September, but was ultimately folded into a broader piece of legislation sponsored by Senate President Stephen Sweeney, Senator Jim Whelan and Van Drew. That bill (S-11) was approved today by the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee.
“I’ve always said that the future success of the gaming resort ultimately hinges on our ability to change the public perception that Atlantic City is dangerous,” said Senator Van Drew (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). “Establishing a police task force to specifically patrol the tourism district will create a notable security presence to ensure that visitors feel safe.”
The provision to establish a Joint Law Enforcement Task Force within the State Police is included in legislation to bolster the powers of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority. The legislation would first require the CRDA to designate through resolution the territory that would comprise the Atlantic City Tourism (ACT) District. It would then give the CRDA broad jurisdiction within this newly created district, including the ability to implement initiatives that promote cleanliness as well as institute public safety improvements with the Joint Law Enforcement Task Force.
The chair of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority and the Superintendent of the State Police would jointly appoint a Task Force Director, which would serve for a four-year term. The Task Force would develop and implement the policies, guidelines and procedures to conduct law enforcement operations within the ACT district.
During the hiring process, the Task Force would be required to first consider current Atlantic City police officers and Atlantic City police officers who had been laid-off within 24 months of the bill’s enactment. Officers hired by the Task Force would have to be certified by the state Police that they met State Police training requirements.
“This joint law enforcement task force will send a clear message that we are serious about turning Atlantic City around,” said Van Drew. “A noticeable security presence in the area of the casinos – on the boardwalk and around the shops – will demonstrate that city and state officials are committed to transforming Atlantic City into resort destination this is as visitor-friendly as other top-tier vacation spots, from Las Vegas to Disney World.”