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Camden County Officers Begin Patrolling City

April 09, 2013  | 

The Camden County PD's Metro Division swore in the first group of officers. Photo courtesy of Camden County.
The Camden County PD's Metro Division swore in the first group of officers. Photo courtesy of Camden County.
The first wave of officers from the newly constituted Camden County Police Department's Metro Division hit the streets Monday to curb violent crime, rampant drug dealing, and prostitution in one of the country's most dangerous jurisdictions.

The county policing agency will gradually replace the Camden (N.J.) Police Department, which will be dissolved by April 30, and provide law enforcement services with a blend of former city officers, laterals from smaller agencies, special officers who will receive additional training, and civilian police aides.

The Camden County Board of Freeholders picked Camden Police Chief Scott Thompson to lead the new agency, which will eventually reach 401 sworn officers later this year. On Monday, 61 former Camden PD officers were sworn into the ranks of the county agency.

"These sworn police officers will stabilize Camden city and make Camden County a safer place to live," said Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli, Jr.  "The status quo in our county seat is unacceptable and the level of violence cannot continue over the nine square miles of the city."

New officers will be paired with former city officers for an eight-week field training program to help familiarize the new officers with the city. On Monday, 24 new officers joined the former city officers as field trainees, the county announced.

"Basically their mission yesterday was they went out in the streets and made their presence known," Ron Tomasello, a county spokesman, told POLICE Magazine. "The Camden County Police Department will put more officers on the street than the Camden city department was able to with their resources."

The agency will also send 66 Class II Special Officers—seasonal officers often used in beachside communities—to a three-week training course. The New Jersey Police Training Commission has approved the course for these back-up officers who now have full police powers, but may not carry a firearm off duty. Standard police training in New Jersey lasts 26 weeks.

The Metro Division will also hire more than 50 civilian police aides to help at crime scenes, operate video surveillance cameras, and respond to nonviolent crimes. About 1,300 people have applied for these positions.

The new agency will be funded through city property tax revenue and state funds for municipal aid. Earlier this year, the state granted the Freeholder Board $7.5 million in start-up funding for the agency. With that funding, the agency has hired 268 officers and purchased Dodge Charger Pursuit patrol cars, body armor, uniforms, side arms, and badges.

In 2012, Camden recorded 67 homicides, breaking a record set in 1995. So far this year, the city has already doubled its homicide rate. Drug dealing has overrun some 170 city blocks, according to the agency. In January, CQ Press rankings listed Camden as the city with the highest crime rate in the nation.

By Paul Clinton

Comments (6)

Displaying 1 - 6 of 6

therookie @ 4/9/2013 4:45 PM

What's wrong with this story? Dis-solved City Dept. had no more money ? How does a New Agency buy new patrol cars, uniforms, body armor, side arms, and badges? I expect the patches & badges, but how can/could they say they had no more money, and then put this kind of money out there? Just tell it the way it is, We do not like the City Police Dept., don't trust them, and are voting them out. Why sugar coat it so blatantly in the face. Wow!! Again, glad I'm retired from the business these days.

tppc.sgt20 @ 4/10/2013 2:51 AM

With all due respect to the NJ Police Training commission, Federal law now says that someone with statutory powers of arrest, and authorized by the department to carry a firearm, may carry off duty.

JC @ 4/10/2013 8:06 AM

What's with the SWAT style uniforms?....and notice the communist inspired miltary hats!

fred @ 4/11/2013 2:54 PM

the right thing to do is get the new officer out on the street's take the old officer out for good and that well make a big difference having back 125 old officers will not make a change

OfficerJason @ 4/26/2013 11:01 AM

Lots of bad things happening here. First they are fazing out the PD but using them to train the new officers? Talk about bending over and taking it...i agree with therookie here, obviously there was plenty of money to fund the PD, the city just opted to go another route. And tppc.sgt20 is correct. ANYONE who has full powers of arrest and is a commissioned officer may carry off duty. Even reserves

Kyle Mckee @ 5/9/2013 8:42 AM

I don't understand this concept, abolish a city Department, enact a county department. Hire new recruits for this county department, train with city police officer's that will be switched to this new county police department. Can someone tell me how this will "improve" Camden. I used to live in NJ, Camden and Trenton have always been high in criminal activity for as long as I can remember, putting a county police department in charge of this with basically the same personel you had with the city department is not fixing the problem.

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