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Camden Begins Dissolving Force for County Police

January 04, 2013  | 

Photo via Camden PD.
Photo via Camden PD.

Local officials can now begin dismantling the Camden Police Department and setting up a new county police agency they say will better serve one of the nation's most crime-ridden cities.

Earlier this month, the New Jersey Civil Service Commission approved a plan to layoff the remaining 265 Camden officers on April 30. In the meantime, city officials have begun launching the Camden County Police Department's Metro Division, which will deploy 400 officers.

Officials initially said less than 50% of the current officers will be rehired into the new agency. Negotiations between the state Fraternal Order of Police is now in negotiations with the county for a new contract.

Camden's Mayor Dana Redd told the South Jersey Times police coverage of the area will overlap.

"It is important that our residents understand that the city will always maintain a police presence and will continue to patrol our neighborhoods and business corridors during this transition," Redd said. "This is a deliberative and a well thought out process of standing up one department while gradually standing down the other."

On Friday, the Camden City Council approved the plan, which will increase the number of officers in the city to 400. The cost of providing police services will remain at about $60 million due to reduced compensation packages offered to county officers, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Tags: Camden (N.J.) PD, Camden County (N.J.) PD, Disbanding Agencies, Police Unions, Officer Layoffs


Comments (11)

Displaying 1 - 11 of 11

Jim Davenport @ 1/4/2013 8:47 PM

You get what you pay for, I believe they'll regret this decision in the long run.

Bob@Az. @ 1/4/2013 9:33 PM

Jim, I think it will be more like a short run. Wait 'til the response time starts stretching as squads try to cover all that unfamiliar ground.

Walter Ely @ 1/5/2013 4:40 AM

I understand what you both are saying, but I think what the real problem here is they have issues with the overall integrity of the department.

bob thomas @ 1/5/2013 6:33 AM

I am a police officer with the cpd. This is nothing short of union busting at its best. We haven't had a raise in over 4 years. We are one of the lowest paid police forces in NJ and yet we work in the crime capital of America. Yes, there is a serious problem with the leadership of this agency. Space does not permit me to address all shortcomings. 30 plus lawsuits against the leadership is just the tip of the iceberg alone. However, officers are leaving at an alarming rate either thru early retirement or other jobs. Last month alone we lost 11 with more leaving this month. Since Thomson took over as Chief in late 2008, CPD has lost over 150 officers - with none replaced. Our authorized strenght is 450. We have about 230 currently. We've had over 200 homicides during his tenure because he is unable to properly assign manpower. But perhaps someone could explain to me how a Metro force that will have HIRE salaries, employ 200 MORE officers and 100 MORE civilians, operate under the current budget and is going to SAVE money. I've repeatedly asked for a logical explanation but so far no one has been able to provide that. And, on top of that the new force will be 'at-will' employees. Thomson wants to be able to hire and fire at will with no appeal process. It's leadership thru terrorism and no officer wants to return under those conditions. Just yesterday an illegally fired officer was ordered by the Courts to be immediately reinstated and the city given 1 month to pay his 650,000 back wages (8 yrs).

John @ 1/5/2013 6:37 AM

From the NY Times article
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/29/nyregion/overrun-by-crime-camden-trades-in-its-police-force.html

"Even union officials acknowledge that the contract is rich with expensive provisions. For example, officers earn an additional 4 percent for working a day shift, and an additional 10 percent for the shift starting at 9:30 p.m. They earn an additional 11 percent for working on a special tactical force or an anticrime patrol."

"And liberal sick time and family-leave policies have created an unusually high absentee rate: every day, nearly 30 percent of the force does not show up. (A typical rate elsewhere is in the single digits.)"

"...the police in Camden — population 77,000 — are already so overloaded they no longer respond to property crimes or car accidents that do not involve injuries. "

Camden’s budget was $167 million last year, and of that, the budget for the police was $55 million.

With Camden's crime level, major changes are needed.

Norman S. Miller @ 1/5/2013 9:10 AM

I hope that this measure will help the department and pride,moral,and honor back to Camden and it/s. Police Officers.

bob thomas @ 1/5/2013 9:12 AM

The article you are referring to was put out there by the talking heads. Our absentee rate is 12%. Our contract is NOT rich with expensive provisions. We buy all our own equipment/uniforms except weapon, cuffs, baton and one badge. Shift differential is common in shift work in law enforcement and has been in our contract for many years. Shifts DON'T start at 9:30. FACT: officers are working 16 hour shifts on daily basis. Officers are to call in on their days off. Officers are being ordered in on their days off despite manpower to cover the streets. Officers were ordered to work concerts on their days off. The SWAT unit was ordered to work every concert including the teletubbies/fresh beat band event just in case those 5 and 6 year olds got out of hand drinking their juices. Officers are being ordered to work a 'voluntary' side job at Cooper Hospital, which, by the way, happens to be under control of a political powerbroker. Officers are so overworked that they can't get a day off so they need to take a sick day just to regroup and see their families. Don't believe everything printed in the media. Unless you talk with someone who works here.... FACT: Councilman Brian Coleman sent the mayor and chief a letter requesting all overtime expenditures in October, 2012. To date he has not received any reply. He knows monies are being misappropriated. He also requested a federal investigation into the acts as well. FACT: The city received a 5 million dollar federal grant to keep and maintain a minimum of 283 officers. Grant was forfeited and had to be repaid since minimum levels were not kept. And yes, it's true, we don't respond to calls for service such as burglary, mv collisions, thefts. All info is taken over the phone so there is no collection or documentation of evidence. The major change that is needed is to rid our agency of its leadership since overwhelming

Dennis (CHP retired) @ 1/5/2013 1:25 PM

Similar actions are taking place in CA. Many mid-sized cities (50K -- 75K) are moving in favor of county agencies (County Sheriffs Departements) and eliminating their own. The primary reason is simple: budgets. Local agencies can eliminate or reduce their overhead, Chief, commanders, etc., and have exising county agencies use their existing command structure. It's an idea that the private sector has been doing for decades, they call it acquistions and mergers. Public agencies are not private companies, but they are using adopting the practice. I doubt it will end anytime soon, providing it ends at all.

Old Guy @ 1/5/2013 11:23 PM

Oh this will end alright. As soon as the big city Mayors realize they no longer control law enforcement in their own towns, this will come to a screeching halt. This is political expediency for the short term. Money is tight. Don't address the voting leaches in our society, address the public workers and demonize them. All of this will come back to bite the politicians. Unfortunately it will bite coppers and the public they serve first.
Stay united brothers. Do not yield to the temptation to criticize one another or believe "news" stories about each other when those same stories would infuriate us it we were lied about the same way by corrupt politicians. Hang together or hang separately. I pray for my brothers in blue throughout this whole Camden debacle. Let's not fail them now, nor give up the fight. The next target might be waged on you and your agency…

Just a guy over here.. @ 1/7/2013 10:12 AM

$60 million for 400 officers? That’s $150,000 per officer. I know, I know that’s for vehicles, equipment, etc...

The agency I am quite familiar with spends about $146,000 per officer. And that’s for vehicles, equipment, training, paper, IT budget..etc, etc. The avg pay is $75,000 a year plus full health care and a respectable retirement. Many officers closing in on $100K…with OT. And still staying below the $150,000 price point average.

Wanna save some $? Go to 12 hr shifts. Don't know if they are on 12s, but I doubt it.

The OT hogs don’t like 12s, but for budget? A God send.

Whatever happens, I am sure there are some good and great officers there. I hope it works out for those employees.

bob thomas @ 1/7/2013 10:19 AM

Yes, we already work 12 hour shifts in the city. An arbitrator ruled against the 12 hour shifts two weeks ago. CPD budget for police, as posted on the city site is 42 million. The new metro plan calls for an INCREASE in both salaries and manpower but operate under the same monies. Don't understand how that is going to be accomplished. By the way we just got got our layoff notices today, 1/7/2013. 283 officers facing unemployment.

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