CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) – A memorandum of understanding among the State of New Jersey, Camden County, and the City of Camden means the Garden State will likely get its first countywide police department, with Camden as its first participant.

Even though the city and county have to formally approve the concept over the next two weeks and develop an implementation plan by the end of September, the changes could come as soon as the end of the year.

Camden County freeholder-director Lou Cappelli says that by disbanding and reforming the police department, they’ll be changing salaries, benefits,  and work rules in the process.

“We believe that we will be able to double the number of police officers on the street in Camden city,” he told KYW Newsradio this morning.

Meanwhile, John Williamson, president of the Camden Fraternal Order of Police, says the union is considering legal action.

“This is a total attempt to pretty much annihilate the Camden Police Department,” he said today.

Williamson wants a voter referendum on the plan — which Cappelli says won’t happen.

To avoid union recognition in the countywide police force, federal law would limit the number of Camden officers rehired to 49 percent, although all current officers could apply.  The rest of the new force would be composed of laid-off officers from outside the city.

Reported by David Madden, KYW Newsradio 1060

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