• Lynda Cohen

Pleasantville drug bust goes beyond one arrest, chief says

Updated: May 13

A recent Pleasantville drug arrest meant more than just one person jailed to residents and police, the city’s chief said.

Instead, it pointed out how close the dangers of drugs are to the innocent in the community.

After a month-long investigation, the home on the 300 block of West Washington Avenue was raided at about 3 a.m. Monday. Inside, police found alleged drug dealer Jerome Mace, along with 350 wax paper folds believed to contain heroin, drug paraphernalia and ammunition.

But they also found young mothers and children, Chief Sean Riggin said.

“I was struck by the difficulty of the moment when I arrived at the residence, kicking empty wax packets of heroin from the street as I walked, to find both the very guilty and truly innocent standing on the porch at 5:00 AM,” Riggin wrote. “There can be no excuse for engaging in activities that threaten the neighborhoods where our Pleasantville kids live and play.”

The chief was so moved by the incident, he took to Facebook on Friday to let residents know the story behind the arrest.

“That moment of both satisfaction that our officers had arrested the bad guys, mixed the sadness of seeing the kids on the porch as the officers searched for the heroin that could have killed them, will stay with me for a long time,” he wrote.

He had been hearing about a drug-dealing problem just blocks from Washington Avenue School for weeks.

Riggin put the Street Crimes Unit and detectives on it and said that “good old-fashioned police work by uniform cops was the key.”

New Officer Dan Davis developed critical information needed to take down the drug-distribution network,” Riggin said.

Davis, Patrolman Ryan VanSyckle and Detective James Searle came up with a plan that brought detectives, patrol units and the SWAT team to the Washington Avenue home at 3 a.m.

In the end,  Mace wound up going to the Atlantic County Justice Facility on charges of drug possession, possession with intent to distribute, possession within a school zone and possession of prohibited devices. Jerry Nicholas, 34, of West Deptford, who was wanted on a warrant.

“This department stands willing to pay early morning visits to the home of any dealer who chooses to use our city as a place to sell the heroin that is killing kids across the country,” Riggin said. “But we are never going to enjoy entering those homes when innocent children are inside. We all have kids, we all feel it when we have to use the tactics and strategies that keep officers safe from the guns and violence these dealers are so willing to use.”

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