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Camden Temporarily Brings Back Some Police, Firefighters

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(A Camden police car may soon be a thing of the past when the county takes over policing duties.  File photo from CBS3)

(A Camden police car may soon be a thing of the past when the county takes over policing duties. File photo from CBS3)

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CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) - Camden, NJ mayor Dana Redd has announced plans to call back 50 laid-off police officers and 15 firefighters next month, but she admits the fiscal crisis affecting her city is far from over.

A $2.5-million upfront payment in lieu of taxes from the South Jersey Port Corporation is providing the money to bring the cops and firefighters back, but only from April 1st through June 30th.

Still, Mayor Redd is confident that she and the Camden city council will find a way to keep them longer.

“This is a temporary solution,” she told reporters on Thursday. “Let me highlight that: while we explore the long-term solution — and that may be the regionalized public safety and shared services plan.”

That shared services plan is being developed by Camden County (see related story).

In addition to the hires announced Thursday, previously announced federal grants worth a total of about $9 million could soon be used to rehire about 15 more firefighters and additional police officers (see related story).

In total, the rehires won’t come close to replacing all those laid off in January, when 167 of the city’s police officers and 68 of its firefighters were told their jobs were being cut. That represented nearly half the police force and one-third of the fire department (see previous story).

Gov. Chris Christie, who issued a statement in support of Redd’s action, will be in the area next week to talk up regionalization — in private — with elected officials.

As for the unions affected by this latest news, the FOP says it is glad its members are being called back but president John Williamson questions whether a regional police force would work in his city.

Reported by David Madden, KYW Newsradio 1060.

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