The county-run force policing Camden is getting new recruits.
A $2.3 million federal grant translates into hiring 10 police officers for three years to fight gun violence in Camden.
Mayor Dana Redd says the county force has been making inroads since beginning to patrol in the spring.
“We are serious about reducing the number of crimes that happen in our communities and making our citizens and our visitors and our business community safe.”
Police Chief Scott Thomson says they are using community policing to tell criminals Camden is not the place to be.
“Our successes that we have had thus far are not one that we are solving these problems with a pistol and a pair of handcuffs rather what we are doing is engaging the residents getting them comfortable with their neighborhood. When they can come out of the home and sit on the front steps and occupy their street corner then the drug dealers cannot. Then the folks that are pulling out the firearms and using them they cannot as well.”
After setting a record last year, Thomson says homicides are down 26 percent in Camden since the county force took over.
The new police officers will be trained and on the streets by June.
The county-run force has been held up as a model by Gov. Chris Christie, who has urged Mercer County to follow suit to help police Trenton. Union leaders have bristled at the county structure, saying it was implemented to break the old police department’s contract.