It may have one of the highest violent crime rates in the nation, but the city of Camden can no longer afford their police department. Steps are being taken to dismantle the current department and create a new one under county leadership, much to the dismay of many.
“Not too long ago, we [were] considered the worst city in crime in the nation and what do they do? Give up the cops,” says longtime Camden resident Larry Shaw to NPR. “The cops that are here now are more than just cops. I mean you can talk to them, they know the people and they’re your friends and they protect you.”
Camden wouldn’t be left to vigilante justice, a cop-free town with a lone county Sheriff, like in the Old West. Instead, it would have a new department, under new funding and new leadership.
Right now, the Camden Police Department is running out of money. It is funded, in part, with aid from the state — aid that is reduced a little every year.
“We have explored our options, and the best model for us is shared services,” says Camden City Attorney Marc Riondino. “In Camden, it’s well-known we have an uptick in violence; we have to enter into a new paradigm and make residents feel safe and that’s the only reason we’re doing this.”
The city is on pace to break records this year. Not good records either. Homicides and shootings are at all-time highs. The people are worried that a change in police forces will hurt their chances of reversing the violent trends.
But the proponents of a county system see it differently.
A new department would have new training, new policies, and the potential to bring new crime fighting blood to the streets. Also, Jose Cordero, a consultant brought into develop the new police force, says that they can save money by hiring civilians to do work that officers simply don’t need to do. In other words, the new department may bring civilian jobs to Camden.
“If you don’t need a guyn and you don’t need a badge to do that job, then you shouldn’t be doing it,” Cordero says about money wasted paying cops to do jobs that civilians could do instead.
For now, the system remains the same, but the city is headed for major law enforcement changes in coming years.
If you are arrested by the Camden police for a crime, you can bet that you will be prosecuted whenever possible. This is particularly true if you are suspected of a major drug offense, a gun charge, or if you have a criminal history. You need an advocate pulling for you. Contact me today to discuss your charges and your legal options.