The Central Municipal Court of Atlantic County has reached an agreement with the Atlantic County Sheriff’s Office to provide security for the consolidated municipal court system. The court is the first of its kind in New Jersey and is expected to begin hearing cases in January 2022.
“The last link in the chain has been completed,” stated County Executive Dennis Levinson. “Sheriff Eric Scheffler is 100 percent on board. Without his cooperation, this effort would not have been financially feasible. Having the Sheriff’s Office provide security was always our goal, but it took time to iron out the details of an agreement. We now have a deal that is beneficial to all.”
The agreement reached with the Sheriff’s Office is for an annual cost of $507,000, which coincides with the cost for private security. An initial one-time cost will provide uniforms, weapons, body armor, equipment and a prisoner transportation vehicle.
“I strongly support the consolidated court and have from the beginning,” Scheffler said. “I believe it will be a cost savings for the local municipalities and help the community-at-large by promoting justice reform. I’m pleased to play a role in this historic initiative.”
Nine municipalities have signed agreements to participate. They include Egg Harbor Township, Galloway Township, Hamilton Township, Linwood, Northfield, Ventnor, Estell Manor, Weymouth Township and Port Republic. While they represent only 40 percent of the municipalities, more than 60 percent of the municipal court filings will be handled by the Central Municipal Court, including all state police and state agency filings, even those that emanate from non-participating towns.
The court will provide cost savings and reduce duplication of services. The majority of court hearings will be conducted virtually, as has been the case since COVID-19. A June 2021 order from the New Jersey Courts mandates the continuation of remote court proceedings that offer greater convenience and reduced costs.