It’s known as “America’s Playground,” and Atlantic City is looking to keep it as safe as one.
Late last year, a state-financed program was announced, using $5 million in finding to install 1,000 state-of-the-art cameras in over 200 locations.
“This is yet another effort to make the Great City of Atlantic City a cleaner and safer city,” Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small Sr. said in a November statement.
“Projects like this have always been talked about, and now it is finally getting done under the Small administration. This gives the Atlantic City Police Department, the best police department in the world, more eyes on the streets as we look to improve public safety, especially in our neighborhoods.”
Despite the city’s best efforts to protect the area around Atlantic City casinos, however, officials continue to see crimes arise – including a fatal attack on New Year’s Day.
Two fatalities discovered in Atlantic City
According to the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, police responded to a 911 call at 6:15 a.m. on Monday and found a man bleeding on a street near the beach who later died at the hospital. A second 911 call came about an hour later, leading police to discover a 22-year-old man who was pronounced dead at the scene from multiple stab wounds.
Police said the deaths do not appear to be related. And no arrests were made as of earlier this week. But it could cause some concern not only for Atlantic City residents but also for tourists.
Especially in a city that, at that point, had already installed those 1,000 cameras in response to requests for increased public security.
Atlantic City already working on improved security
America’s Playground drew 27 million visitors last year. It remains a go-to destination for not just gamblers but also families looking for vacation getaways.
The concern, of course, is if Atlantic City is not perceived as safe – or even safe enough – those tourists will choose to travel elsewhere.
“Public safety is extremely important in Atlantic City,” James Sarkos, chief of police in Atlantic City, told the Associated Press. He added about the cameras: “It’s a huge investment in public safety, and it’s going to make Atlantic City safer for everybody.”
In a November statement, Patrick Quinlan, information technology director for the city, called the cameras “new to the game,” with Atlantic City becoming “one of the first to use them.” He then assured the value of the technology.
“The analytics capabilities on these cameras are far and above the rest. For the height in which they are mounted, they have the capability to pull in images as if they were right in front of you. This citywide camera program will make Atlantic City one of the safest cities in all of New Jersey.”
According to the Associated Press, neither police nor the county prosecutor’s office confirmed wither those cameras captured any images related to the New Year’s fatalities. Nor did they comment on a still-unsolved homicide from Nov. 7.
Goals of increased number of cameras
According to a November press release announcing the new cameras, Atlantic City officials detailed the purpose of the technology.
The project, the press release said, “will change the landscape of Atlantic City and revolutionize the way Law Enforcement protects the community, by utilizing unprecedented Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities.”
Per the announcement, the new cameras serve five purposes:
- Enhance public safety by providing real-time response.
- Reduce crime by being visible to the public, thus acting as a deterrent to potential crimes.
- Increase emergency response by allowing police to quickly identify and assess emergencies.
- Improve investigations by providing data to give law enforcement key evidence.
- Increase situational awareness by offering additional help monitoring traffic flow during large-scale events and flooding during major storms.
Security investment ‘will double down’ on Atlantic City safety
Per police, statistics indicated that several major crime categories saw increases in 2023 compared with 2022, including seven homicides in Atlantic City through Nov. 26. In addition, aggravated assaults rose to 355 incidents in 2023, up from 317 the previous year. Robberies, meanwhile, increased a touch: 189 in 2022 to 194 in 2023.
All of this contributed to city officials choosing to implement this $5 million plan to install 1,000 additional cameras throughout Atlantic City. The area has had cameras of some sort in place since 2016.
While some residents expressed their concerns over not feeling safe, there is some proof that the increased security has worked. For example, those cameras have helped solve a number of crimes in Atlantic City, from near-fatal stabbings to burglaries to lost children.
Police monitor cameras in real time. When calls come in, police can quickly link to camera feeds surrounding the source of the call before they even answer, allowing them to observe the surroundings as police take the call. In addition, private and commercial businesses, including the nine Atlantic City casinos, can quickly share their camera feeds with police.
“This investment will double down on our ability to hold those who are committing offenses accountable, make Atlantic City safer, and make our department one of the most technologically advanced in our region,” Sarkos said in the November press release.
“The Atlantic City Police Department is a strong believer that technology acts as a force multiplier. We leverage it in our day-to-day operations, and it has totally transformed the way we do things.”