BLACKWOOD, NJ (CBS) – More than one hundred municipal and county officials from across Camden County met this morning in Blackwood to discuss plans to form a countywide police and fire department, with municipalities getting the option of joining in or not.
Police and fire chiefs were not very open to discussing things after the hour-long, closed-door session that county freeholder-director Lou Cappelli insists was merely “informational” in nature. Just an exchange of ideas.
But he acknowledges the political landscape is changing and elected officials have to change with it.
“This is a difficult process,” Cappelli told KYW Newsradio after the meeting. “In New Jersey we have too much government, and finding ways to deliver the services we deliver in a more efficient manner will be a very challenging process.”
He thinks a shared police and/or fire department can get off the ground within a few months, at least on a small scale, assuming a couple of towns sign up. Getting most of the county on board could take longer, Cappelli thinks — a couple of years, perhaps — but he suggests that taxpayers could save 20 to 30 percent on police and fire costs through consolidation.
Collingswood mayor Jim Maley (right) suggests municipalities may have little choice but to join.
“Local governments are dying one way or the other, and it’s up to us to choose whether we just fade away or disappear with layoffs or whether or not we find, like every company in America’s had to do, a different way to do our work,” he said.
Reported by David Madden, KYW Newsradio 1060.