As Camden County officials look into the possibility of creating a countywide police department, a former Philadelphia police commissioner is in town this week on a fact-finding mission for the project.
He’s also giving the departments that could join in the venture a reality check.
John Timoney warned members of New Jersey law enforcement agencies and politicians that they should not bank on big savings from a countywide police department.
“It’s entirely possible they will save money, but it’s also entirely possible that it will be a zero-sum game,” Timoney said. “It’s also entirely possible, given startup costs, that it may be initially more expensive.”
In some respects, the easy part is setting up the model and the staffing, said Timoney, who has also served as police chief in New York and Miami.
“The real hard part is the part played by lawyers because, at the end of the day, all this stuff is bound up in state law, in contractual law, labor relations law,” he said. “And clearly the unions, understandably so, are threatening retaliatory lawsuits and whatnot.”
Camden, a cash-strapped city forced to lay off police earlier this year because of budget problems, has expressed interest in a countywide police force. But no other municipality in the county has signed on yet.