PHILADELPHIA (CBS) With layoffs set to substantially reduce the size of Camden’s police force, the founder of the volunteer crime fighting Guardian Angels arrived in town today (Sunday), to mark the start of three months of volunteer patrols.

Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa (photo, center) has brought in 40 volunteers to patrol the four corners of Camden, in an effort to fill the void left by the loss of 180 police officers as of Tuesday, thanks to a new austerity budget.

Those arriving Sunday came from as far afield as upstate New York, but the primary aim is to recruit and train local Guardian Angels to maintain a regular presence.

“Whoever’s involved in trying to take their community back are gonna want to get involved in the Guardian Angels, because if they just sit back and grow barnacles on their backside, the criminals will win.”

Sliwa says Camden is just the latest city to make cuts to its police force, and expects the trend to continue unless lawmakers make police funding a priority.

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They’ll also look to “begin recruiting and training local Camden residents from both the city and the county to become Guardian Angels, so that we can have a regular force of Guardian Angels there in the future,” said Sliwa.

180 Camden police are among almost 400 workers who will be let go in an economic move, even though unions have offered wage and fringe concessions.

The FOP says their talks with Mayor Dana Redd are at an impasse, but even if that impasse is broken, the layoff numbers won’t change much.

Reported By Molly Daly, KYW Newsradio; Jericka Duncan, CBS 3.

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