2014 was the first full year for a county police force patrolling Camden, New Jersey. Promising crime-fighting trends that began in 2013 took deeper root last year.
Since Camden has started using a county police force in May, 2013, there has been a 51 percent reduction in homicides, 22 percent drop in violent crime and 44 percent reduction in shootings.
Freeholder Director Lou Cappelli says the new force has exceeded expectations.
“We still have a lot of work to do we aren’t going to rest on our laurels, but I think we’ve taken a big step in the right direction towards making the city a much safer city,” he said.
By dissolving Camden’s old police department, the county police force has been able to afford to put more cops on the street. The Camden Fraternal Order of Police criticized replacing the old force as a case of union busting. But those behind the move said escaping the old contract that even gave officers bonus pay for working the day shift was unaffordable. Capelli said the additional foot and bicycle patrols have made a big difference.
“They instantly built trust with the residents of the city and that is a huge multiplier for us when the residents are working closely with the police officers,” he said.
Cappelli says dropping crime rates have helped lure Subaru and other businesses to Camden.
As of December 31st, the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office listed 33 homicides during 2014 for Camden. Back in 2012, the city set an all-time record with 67 homicides. The rate was modestly down in 2013, but the county force took over in May of that year and took a while to fully staff up.