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Bright Side Police & Fire

Atlantic City Police Department & Jewish Family Service Receive Grant to Improve Public Safety and Health Outcomes

(Pictured left to right): Andrea Steinberg, Chief Executive Officer of Jewish Family Service of Atlantic & Cape May Counties; Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small, Sr.; Stockton University Criminal Justice Professor Dr. Christine Tartaro; and Atlantic City Police Department Interim Officer in Charge James Sarkos will partner on the $740,576 multi-year grant from the Department of Justice to improve the city’s public safety responses and health outcomes for individuals with mental illness and/or substance abuse. (Photo provided by Jewish Family Service of Atlantic & Cape May Counties)

Atlantic City, NJ (November 13, 2020) – The Atlantic City Police Department (ACPD), in collaboration with Jewish Family Service of Atlantic & Cape May Counties (JFS), received a $740,576 grant from the Department of Justice (DOJ) to improve public safety responses and health outcomes for individuals with mental illness and/or substance abuse.

Since 2005, the AC Police Department and JFS have closely partnered to deliver justice involved services to people with mental illness. To further expand on the goal of providing services and programs to the city’s homeless population, especially those with mental illness or substance abuse, in 2012, JFS embedded a Case Manager with ACPD to support officers on daytime shifts. To use over a 36-month period, the DOJ grant will build on that program by filling the critical after-hours outreach gap and providing better equipment to officers and social workers so that they can deliver on-site support.

“Stories of police interactions with individuals who have mental illness continue to lead media headlines and this program combines the strengths of both the Atlantic City Police Department and Jewish Family Service to better serve the people of Atlantic City. JFS’ talented and knowledgeable team specialize in de-escalation, mental health treatment and responding in crisis. We are ready to collaborate in this program that will break down barriers and provide real time help to individuals with mental illness during police encounters,” said Andrea Steinberg, Chief Executive Officer of Jewish Family Service of Atlantic & Cape May Counties.

In the public safety sphere, last year, the AC Police Department received 714 calls for service specifically involving individuals with mental illness. In addition, statistics show there’s a strong prevalence of co-occurring mental illness and substance abuse amongst Atlantic City’s homeless population. In January 2019, a survey found 357 individuals were experiencing homelessness in Atlantic County. Of them, 162 were individuals with severe mental illness and 115 experiencing substance abuse.

“This federal grant will allow us to better serve those dealing with mental illness, substance abuse, and homelessness in Atlantic City,” said Interim Officer in Charge James Sarkos. “Each day, our officers encounter individuals that fall into at least one of these three categories. It is our duty to offer the necessary services that many others already have access to. Our partnership with JFS will allow us to do just that,” he added.

“The goal of my administration is to provide essential services to all of our community members,” said Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small, Sr. “This federal funding will allow the ACPD and JFS to better serve the City of Atlantic City. I applaud the commitment of these two community minded organizations to help those individuals who are in a mental health crisis, and this administration fully supports their efforts,” he added

This innovative program implements real-time interaction between law enforcement and social workers. The multi-year, evidence-based partnership will incorporate nine months for a planning phase in partnership with Stockton University, and 27 months implementing the program. The collaborators will work to enhance the training and social interaction between all parties as well as help to get people out of the system and make productive members of society.

For more information, contact Susan Kotzen (JFS) at skotzen@jfsatlantic.org or Kevin Fair (ACPD) at kfair@acpolice.org.

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Police & Fire Recent News

33-Year Old Little Egg Harboar Woman Charged With Creating Fictitious GoFundMe Campaigns

Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina and Pemberton Township Police Chief David King announced on October 8, 2020 that a 33-year-old Little Egg Harbor woman has been charged with creating a fictitious GoFundMe campaign to raise money for the funeral of her 4-year-old son, who she claimed died of cancer, but in reality had been adopted by a Pemberton Township couple after she signed away her parental rights.

Holly Garcia, of Lake Champlain Drive, was charged with Computer Criminal Activity (Second Degree) and Attempted Theft by Deception (Third Degree).

She was taken into custody September 24 and released last week following an initial appearance in Superior Court in Mount Holly. The case will now be prepared for presentation to a grand jury for possible indictment.

The investigation began in June after a couple from Pemberton Township who recently adopted Garcia’s 4-year-old son contacted police to say that his photo was being used in a GoFundMe campaign seeking $5,000 for funeral expenses for a child who had reportedly died from cancer.

The investigation revealed that Garcia created the campaign. Further investigation determined that Garcia had created multiple fictitious GoFundMe campaigns seeking money for the following: an urn for her dead son’s ashes; assistance for her 4-year-old son who is going blind in one eye (and whose father had died); assistance for her unborn child; a stroller for her two-month old son, who was born premature; and assistance raising rent money for an apartment, because she claimed she was four months pregnant and homeless.

The total amount requested by Garcia through all of the campaigns was $11,350. The campaigns were ended by the company after being notified by law enforcement that they were not legitimate. Garcia did not receive any contributions before they were taken down.

Garcia will be prosecuted by Assistant Prosecutor Joseph Remy, supervisor of the BCPO Financial Crimes Unit. The investigation was conducted by the Pemberton Township Police Department, with assistance from the BCPO Financial Crimes Unit. The lead investigator is Pemberton Township Police Detective Joshua Danka.

All persons charged with crimes are presumed innocent until proven otherwise in a court of law.

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Police & Fire Recent News

Four Suspects Arrested & Charged With Multiple Offenses in Connection With Shooting into Home of Camden County Police Officers

Chief Joseph Wysocki was joined by county, state and federal law enforcement representatives on October 5, 2020 to announce the arrest of four suspects who fired six rounds into the home of two Camden County Police Officers.

The suspects currently in custody are Kobbie Johnson, 30, Collingswood, Julio Nieves, 19, Pennsauken, Jeremiah McDonald, 18, Pennsauken, and Jaqwa Styles, 19, Pennsauken.

“I want to thank all of the participating agencies for closing this case and bringing justice to our victims,” Wysocki said. “I cannot say enough good things about the work that was done by our shooting response team with assistance from the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office, FBI, ATF, DEA, the US Attorney’s Office, the East Hartford Police Department the Marshalls Task Force and the New Jersey State Police.”

On Tuesday night, Sept. 15, at 11:46 p.m., police responded to the 2900 block of Clinton Street. The residence of the officers was struck while they and their infant were on the second floor. Detectives located seven spent shell casings in front of the home with two rounds traveling through the front door into the interior of the residence.

“Getting these particular individuals off the streets will be a benefit for our community, that said, we are addressing a sudden surge in violent crime,” Wysocki said. “We are focusing all our efforts now on gun violence in order to proactively suppress and eliminate violent crime. That’s why today we are starting a new partnership with the ATF, so agents can work hand in glove with our shooting response team officers. We want to send a clear message to individuals that would even think about pulling a trigger- we will find you and prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law and you will not terrorize our community.”

Through the investigation, it was determined the officers’ home was not the intended target.

ATF Special Agent in Charge for the state of New Jersey, Charlie J. Patterson, talked about agency’s commitment to fighting gun violence throughout New Jersey.

“ATF will continue to be a dependable team player with our partners, and we will remain vigilant in the fight against violent crime in our communities,” Patterson said. “Moreover, let it be known, for those who insist on committing violent gun crimes in our communities, you officially have our undivided attention. ATF Newark, along with our partners will continue to dedicate every resource available to ensure that anyone who contributes to violent gun crime, to include the opportunistic straw purchaser, the potential firearms trafficker, and ultimately the trigger puller, are held accountable.”

All four suspects are being charged with three counts of Attempted Murder 2C: 11-3, Conspiracy to Commit Murder 2C:5-2, Unlawful Possession of Weapon 2C:39-5, and Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose 2C. Johnson was also charged with one count of second-degree Certain Persons Not to Possess Weapons.

“These charges and arrests were made possible thanks to the coordination and collaboration between multiple departments, which is not an easy task,” said Acting Camden County Prosecutor Jill S. Mayer. “Detectives from the Camden County Police Department, Federal Bureau of Investigations – Cherry Hill Office, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the New Jersey State Police and the West Hartford Police Department in Connecticut all played in integral part in identifying, charging, and arresting the four individuals in this case.”

Three of the four suspects have been remanded to the Camden County Correctional Facility. Johnson was arrested by the East Hartford Police Department will be extradited in the coming days.

*Post was updated/corrected on Oct. 5, 2020 at 7:41 p.m.

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Police & Fire Recent News

Woman Found Dead Inside Her Westville Residence; Jose Saez Charged With Felony Murder, Robbery

On Sunday, September 20, 2020, at approximately 1:25 pm, officers from the Westville Police Department responded to 608 Broadway, Westville, Gloucester County, New Jersey for a reported unconscious person at the residence.

Upon arrival, officers discovered 53 year-old Patricia Dorman deceased inside her residence.

An autopsy conducted on Monday, September 21, 2020, by Gloucester County Medical Examiner Dr. Gerald Feigin, ruled Dorman’s cause of death as blunt force trauma and the manner of death as homicide.

Through aggressive investigation, detectives from the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office and Westville Police Department worked as a team, identifying 38 year-old Westville resident Jose L. Saez, as the person responsible for the murder of Patricia Dorman.

During the afternoon of September 22, Saez was arrested in the City of Camden by members of U.S. Marshal’s NY-NJ Regional Fugitive Task Force and the Camden County Sheriff’s Department.

Jose L. Saez is charged with the following criminal charges:

  • 1 Count: Murder
  • 1 Count: Felony Murder
  • 1 Count: Robbery
  • 1 Count: Tampering
  • 1 Count: Unlawful Possession of a Weapon
  • 1 Count: Possession of a Weapon for Unlawful Purpose

“The Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office and the Westville Police Department, under the leadership of Chief William Whinna, have been working tirelessly since the inception of this investigation. Through hard work, tenacity, and determination they promptly identified Saez as a suspect and developed key evidence linking him to the homicide. Patricia Dorman was well known by her neighbors and the cooperation and assistance from the Westville community was crucial in the arrest of Saez,” stated Acting Gloucester County Prosecutor Christine Hoffman.

Agencies assisting in and supporting this investigation and arrest include the U.S. Marshal’s NY-NJ Regional Fugitive Task Force, Camden County Sheriff’s Department, Camden County Metro Police Department, Camden County Prosecutor’s Office, Deptford Township Police Department, Woodbury City Police Department, and Brooklawn Police Department.

This investigation remains active and the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office encourages anyone with information regarding this homicide to contact Detective Keith Palek of the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office at 609-254-2433 or Detective Eric Hibbs of the Westville Police Department at 609-374-4737.

Information can also be e-mailed to the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office at tips@co.gloucester.nj.us.

Despite these charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendant has all of their rights as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and State Law. 

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Police & Fire Recent News

Reward For Information In Attack on CCPD Officers Now $100,000

The reward for information leading to an arrest has reached $100,000 in the attack on the home of two Camden County Police Department officers on Tuesday, Sept. 15.

Police are asking for the public’s help to find the suspects and bring them to justice.

Contributions are now being offered by nine organizations to assist the hunt for information:

  • The New Jersey Policemen’s Benevolent Association (PBA) – $20,000
  • Federal Burau of Investigations – $10,000
  • Lawmen Supply Company – $10,000
  • Anonymous Donor – $10,000
  • U.S. Marshals Service – $10,000
  • FOP Lodge 218 – $5,000
  • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) – $5,000
  • Miller Mendel, Inc. – $2,500
  • First Colonial Bank of Collingswood – $2,500
  • Fraternal Order Police, New Jersey State Lodge – $25,000

“On behalf of the entire Camden County Police Department, I want to express my sincerest gratitude to each of these organizations that have stepped up to aid us in this search,” said Chief Joseph Wysocki said. “This was an attack on two members of our department who have not only sworn to protect the people of this city, but who have worked tirelessly to better their community each and every day. We are continuing to ask that anyone with information that may be related to this crime to contact our department.”

Police are asking for the public’s help to find the suspects and bring them to justice.

Anyone with information on the shooting or the vehicle that was used in the shooting should call the CCPD tip line at (856) 757-7042, the Citizen’s Crime Commission at (215) 546-TIPS, or use the STOPit app.

More contact information for the agency can be found at www.camdencountypd.org. All tips and information are considered anonymous.

Post updated 9/21/2020 at 8:03 p.m., 9/27/2020 at 8:19 p.m.