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Civil Service requirements now hold up Atlantic City police chief appointment

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ATLANTIC CITY — The Civil Service Commission is expected to issue an announcement Aug. 1 for filling the Atlantic City police chief position, a representative of the Department of Community Affairs said Friday.

“Once applications have been received, and the application deadline passes, CSC will review the applications for eligibility and determine if a test is needed,” DCA spokesperson Lisa Ryan said in an email response to questions. “If a test is necessary, CSC will proceed with setting it up.”

Sources familiar with the situation have said for weeks that the state is close to choosing a new chief, and it is expected to be current interim Officer-in-Charge James Sarkos, but have declined to be quoted as they are not authorized to speak publicly.

Civil Service was restored last year in Atlantic City with the new law extending the state takeover of the city another four years.

The state’s refusal to appoint a permanent police chief has been bothering local officials for almost two years.

Former Chief Henry White retired in September 2020, and the state appointed Sarkos as interim officer-in-charge in October 2020.

In December 2020, the lack of a permanent chief was one of the topics discussed at a closed-door meeting between city and state officials, designed to clear the air and promote cooperation.

“As public safety chairman people keep asking me, ‘Why don’t you have a police chief?’” said Councilman MD Hossain Morshed at a council meeting in May. “This is disrespectful to residents. It has been almost two years with no permanent chief, and (interim Officer-in-Charge) Sarkos is doing a wonderful job.”

At that meeting in May, Council President George Tibbitt said the council would send a letter to state officials encouraging them to move more quickly to appoint a new chief.

Ryan said Friday that the reinstitution of Civil Service has impacted all positions that fall under it in the city, including that of police chief.

“Under Civil Service rules, the city must issue a police chief promotional announcement,” Ryan said. “Issuing such a promotional announcement is an invitation for eligible applicants to apply in order to determine if a chief-of-police test is necessary.”

Ryan said the city has informed the commission of its police chief promotional announcement, and the next announcements from the commission are due Aug. 1.

Atlantic City police are also negotiating a new contract, PBA Local 24 President Jules Schwenger said Friday. They hope to have an agreement soon, she said.

Schwenger said the Civil Service Commission system can be slow.

Results from exams in October were not available until a month ago, she said. Results from a sergeant’s exam in February are not expected until August.

“Government does not move fast,” Schwenger said, and the COVID-19 pandemic complicated matters by creating backlogs.

But she said she is hopeful much-needed promotions will come soon for a variety of positions.

REPORTER: Michelle Brunetti Post



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Staff Writer

In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

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