Camden’s Police Department continues to try to do more with less. It’s been nearly six months since budget problems lead the city to layoff about 400 workers—nearly half of them police officers and firefighters. The city has re-hired nearly half the officers, and today Mayor Dana Redd appointed a new Police Director.
As Police Director, Lanuel Ferguson says he’ll tackle the policy and administrative duties—leaving Camden’s Police Chief more time to focus on the Department’s day-to-day operations. Ferguson retired after serving nearly 30 years in the New Jersey State Police, and says he understands the work it takes to command a full time police force.
“It’s personnel, it’s finances, it’s direction,” said Ferguson. “All right? And what I will be doing is taking on the administrative tasks. The Chief knows the bad guys don’t just stick to one place and he’s going to be out there looking at all the hot spots.”
Mayor Redd says most urban centers have Police Directors, and recent crimes combined with tight government budgets mean Camden must search for new ways to keep order.
Police Chief John Scott Thomson says he’s happy to give up some paperwork.
“I’m out on the streets now,” said Thomson. “I’ll be out there even more so now. There’s hundreds of residents in the city that have my cell phone number and I’m responsive to that and I like to be able to be out there and help people and that’s why I’m a cop in the first place.”
Felix Moulier is with the District Council Collaborative Boards, a group of Camden residents trying to improve public safety and the quality of life.
“We have a nationally-recognized Chief of Police in Camden City and I believe he’s doing a fine job at controlling personnel and financial issues and policy, but bringing someone else in is just adding a level of bureacracy, which the city doesn’t need,” said Moulier.
Moulier says to improve public safety, the city should hire more officers.