Regional force could save Camden $14 million annually, consultant says

Details are emerging about a controversial plan to dismantle a New Jersey police department — and replace Camden’s police force with one operated by the county.

Camden is on pace to break a record for homicides and shootings this year and city leaders say something has to change. They’re pushing forward with their solution to the long-struggling city’s problems with finances and crime.

Jose Cordero, a consultant who’s been hired to develop and implement the new police force, said the plan is to hire more officers and give them about the same base pay as current city police.

But, Cordero said, the plan would still save $14 million a year.

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“We’ve eliminated other pay that was previously a contract provision for the Camden City Police Department. For example, special unit assignment pay … was an 11 percent pay differential when an officer is assigned to a unit to proactively combat crime,” he said. “And we’ve also eliminated longevity pay.”

Cordero said the county force could also save money by hiring civilians to do work that’s now done by police, such as IT work and crime scene investigations.

“At, for example, a burglary — once the officer arrives and determines the suspect has fled or the incident no longer poses a threat, the officer will take a report and do a canvas and perhaps, depending on the department, many follow up with forensics such as dusting for fingerprints and those kinds of things,” Cordero said. “Those are duties that can very well be performed by a trained civilian.”

Opponents of the plan call it union-busting.

So far, Camden is the only community to join the regional force.

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