About 100 trainees will begin learning how to protect one of the nation’s most dangerous places. The new Camden County regional police force replaces a city department that opponents said could not meet that challenge.
County freeholder director Louis Cappelli said the officers’ training that starts Monday represents a significant moment for Camden.
“I’m anxious to triple the number of police officers walking the streets of Camden. Residents for the first time in decades will see officers walking the streets, bicycling through through the streets,” Cappelli said. “There will be a real community policing effort that will make Camden City a safe city once again.”
Opponents of the regional force worry that the officers won’t be prepared to police the troubled city — but Cappelli insists the new force will be ready.
“We’ve hired 155 of the existing Camden Police Department officers, so we will be using those officers for training purposes to help the new officers become acclimated to Camden,” he said.
After the training is complete, Cappelli said, the officers will be fully equipped and ready to go.
With 67 homicides last year, Camden surpassed the record number of slayings in 1995. The New Jersey city has one of the highest murder rates per population in the nation.
As officers patrol the streets by foot and bike, Cappelli said residents will see a difference.
Cappelli said the officers will be sworn in after completing their training. They are scheduled to start their new jobs officially April 30.
As more of the new force’s officers deploy, the old city department will be phased out. But more than 100 members of the old department are switching over.