Camden County Police officers have begun policing the crime-plagued New Jersey city. Photo courtesy of Camden County.

Camden County Police officers have begun policing the crime-plagued New Jersey city. Photo courtesy of Camden County.

A new county police force formally took over law enforcement duties in Camden, N.J., Wednesday, as one of America's most dangerous cities dissolved its municipal police force.

The Camden County Police Department's Metro Division began operations with 255 officers, including 150 from the Camden Police Department. City officers who didn't apply were officially laid off Wedesday. Scott Thomson, police chief of the Camden PD, was sworn in as the chief of the new agency.

The county force will eventually reach more than 400 officers by the fall and bring a greater police presence to the crime-plaqued city, Assistant Chief Michael Lynch told POLICE Magazine.

"The regional policing concept has been in our part of the country, but certainly this model is a first, and we're very encouraged by the opportunity to improve our ability to make a significant public safety difference in the city of Camden," Lynch said.

The county department has repurposed some equipment from the city force, and former city officers are training new hires in a field training program. Gov. Chris Christie dismissed criticism that the new force was designed as a union-busting move, reports the Courier-Post.

"This was not about choosing sides in a labor-management dispute, or about bringing about change for the sake of change," Christie said. On Wednesday, a former city officer who attempted to disrupt the swearing-in ceremony was arrested.

By Paul Clinton

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PHOTOS: Camden County Police On Patrol

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