In 2012, Camden had the worst homicide rate in the country. Last year, the city dissolved its 270-member police force, and replaced it with a county-run department. In 2013, the murder rate fell about 15 percent, but it was still one of the worst years on record for the impoverished city.
According to Camden Metro Division Police Chief, Scott Thomson, crime is down in general, despite the brand new force, filled with many officers who had never patrolled the city.
“This a positive indication to us, we’re still far from where we would like to be with regards to reducing and addressing the culture of violence that seems to be pervasive on our streets,” Thomson said.
Last year, 57 people were killed in Camden, compared to 67 in 2012. Across New Jersey, homicides are at a seven-year high, fueled by rising numbers in Trenton and Newark, according to the Star-Ledger.
According to County Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli, Camden is turning a corner.
“I think it’s attributable to the efforts of the men and women who work day in and day out on behalf of the metro division. Gun confiscations are up 70 percent as compared to last year. Community policing has had a significant impact. Residents feel safer, so we have had a clear impact in the city,” said Cappelli.
Camden has received a federal grant to pursue a community based policing plan following Chicago’s ceasefire model. Philadelphia has adopted a similar program.