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Federal Grant Rehires Camden Police

Camden Police

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CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) — New federal grants will add 78 police officers to patrols across New Jersey, where several departments have had deep layoffs because of budget problems.

Federal authorities announced funding Tuesday worth more nearly $21 million for 12 New Jersey communities over three years and gave more details Wednesday on the grant in Camden, one of the beneficiaries of that money.

The biggest recipients are Newark and Camden, two high-crime cities that have had deep police layoffs in the past year.

Newark will be able to add 25 officers. About 150 were laid off late last year, representing about 15 percent of the force in the state’s biggest city.

Camden, which is among the nation’s most crime-ridden cities, laid off about half its police force in January, along with one-third of its firefighters.

It’s receiving a $3.8 million grant that will allow it to rehire 14 police officers.

The city had already secured state and federal money to bring back 74 of the 168 officers who were laid off.

“This is not satisfactory to us,” U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews, a Democrat whose district includes Camden, said in a conference call Wednesday. “We want Camden to be as safe as it can possibly be.”

Authorities said the grant would not affect planning to reorganize the city’s police force. City and Camden County officials want to create a Camden County police department, with a unit in Camden. The change could allow the city to hire officers with lower salaries or less benefits. Police unions oppose the plan.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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