Officers with the Camden County Police Department got a big pat on the back from their boss this week.
In an internal letter, Police Chief Scott Thomson praised the 400-member force for its professionalism over the past two years, particularly while responding to calls for a person with a gun.
Not one officer fired a shot from his or her service weapon in 3,825 incidents, according to the department.
“This level of restraint is remarkable and a credit to your preparation and professionalism,” wrote Thomson.
What’s more, Thomson said, just one incident drew gunfire from county cops over the same period, an alleged suicide-by-cop attempt.
Still, he’s not celebrating.
“If there is ever a time in American policing when we have to be at our best, it is now. It’s a duty that we owe to the profession, it’s a duty we owe to the public, and it’s a duty we owe to each other as police officers,” he said.
Jerry Ratcliffe, who teaches criminal justice at Temple University, said the stats are certainly encouraging, but could also be a bit misleading. A few years ago, Camden residents were known to report that there was a person with a gun to get a faster response from police for other incidents.
Ratcliffe said that it’s possible that practice still exists.
“It still doesn’t detract from the fact that it seems that the Camden Police Department seems to be dealing better with incidents than they have in the past,” said Ratcliffe.
The county department took over in 2013 amid budget woes that cut the city’s police force by almost half and sent the homicide rate through the roof.
In 2012, Camden recorded 67 homicides, the highest toll in its history.
The news comes as Philadelphia looks to cut down on police-involved shootings following a review by the U.S. Department of Justice.
According to the March report, a Philadelphia officer fired a gun nearly once a week between 2007 and 2014.