ATLANTIC CITY– Atlantic City is sweeping under the boardwalk, in search of homeless people. But instead of issuing tickets for violating the ordinance passed last summer making it illegal for anyone to venture beneath the boards, police are reaching out to help.
“You got this end?” “Yeah, we’ll check and go that way, thanks,” crew members said as they planned for the day ahead.
Just before five o’clock this morning the Atlantic City Police Department along with community outreach agencies paid an unexpected visit.
“Doesn’t mean roll over and snooze again…let’s go!,” shouted Sergeant James Shellem.
Organizers were on a mission, conducting a sweep underneath the boardwalk to provide homeless people the help they so desperately need.
“I know that they’re definitely in dire need, there was a man from Vineland and he said he hasn’t eaten in three days but he’s going to find a way to get home, but how? That’s when it’s sad,” said Mandy Love, Psychiatric nurse.
Others are simply victims of addiction whether it be alcohol, drugs, or gambling.
One of the homeless found under the boardwalk said, “Got messed up, I came down here and gambled away a lot of money.”
Ashamed to face his family, this man decided to take shelter under the boardwalk but thanks to the sweep agreed to be taken to the Atlantic City Rescue Mission for help.
“The city has a social responsibility to both civilians whether millionaires or penniless and we try to treat people equally, we’re trying to get them help,” explained Captain Joseph Nolan, Patrol Commander.
Atlantic City has been conducting sweeps for the past three years and police say their outreach has been effective.
“It’s unbelievable last time somewhere between thirty and forty were found, here today we’ve only found about six or seven so whatever we’re doing…it’s working,” said Shellem.
“I think that because of the new ordinances and the tickets that have been issued and people complying with the law and we definitely have less people out here,” said Love. She continued, “It think it’s going to be a better time even next year.”