ATLANTIC CITY — In an effort to connect with residents, members of the city Police Department, the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office and the Coalition for a Safe Community walked through several of the city’s housing complexes Tuesday night.
Councilman Kaleem Shabazz welcomed the group at the All Wars Memorial Building to the first Atlantic City Community Walk of the year. The monthly Community Walks have been taking place in Atlantic City for five years.
“The walks started under Chief (Ernest) Jubilee and have continued under Chief (Henry) White, as outreach and community engagement for the police” Shabazz said. “Over the years, it’s become more in-depth and we have had the ability to build relationships in the community.”
The group walked through Stanley Holmes Village, down New York Avenue through the Elliot House senior complex and down Tennessee Avenue, talking to residents outside their homes, giving out candy to kids and providing information on local events, including the Brown’s Park Summer Movie Night schedule beginning in July.
The Rev. Evard Walker Jr., associate pastor at Second Baptist Church, has been apart of the Community Walks since they began and said he has noticed the impact the events have had.
“When people see us out here, they see we care.” Walker said. “We have to keep this up every year. Not only law enforcement, but the community, too.”
Shabazz mentioned there were outside inquires about whether Tuesday’s walk was in response to the Friday night stabbing of a police officer and police involved shooting on North Kentucky Avenue. He explained the walk was not a reaction or stunt after the incident and that holding these community events have helped bridge the divide between city residents and law enforcement.
“People ask if we’re doing this in response to the incident that happened in the city last week. We’ve been doing this before and we’ll continue,” Shabazz said.
Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon G. Tyner, who could not make Tuesday’s walk because of a previously planned vacation, sent his regards and a message about continuing the outreach and transparency of his office and law enforcement.
“Community Walks are just like planting a seed, and when you water the seed and nurture it you can then return to the community, build relationships, and it grows into something good,” Tyner said in a statement.
Perry Mays, chair of the Coalition for a Safe Community, said he hopes to expand the project throughout the county, with not only law enforcement but also education, employment and health care partners. “They are very productive events,” he said.
The next Atlantic City Community Walk is scheduled for Tuesday at 6 p.m. Future walks are planned for Pleasantville and Egg Harbor City.