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By David Madden

CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) — Opponents of a plan to consolidate Camden, NJ’s police force under the control of Camden County filed petitions today to put the question to city voters in June.

The leader of the county freeholders, however, questions the credibility and motive of those who distributed those petitions.

The city, county and state have agreed to the force in concept. They’re now working on the nuts and bolts of the plan.  Meanwhile, the Camden city clerk today received petitions containing more than 3,000 signatures calling for a voter referendum on the future of the city’s police department.

Camden County freeholder-director Lou Cappelli does not hold back his disdain for the leaders of the petition drive, suggesting that former city councilman Ali Sloan-El and local Fraternal Order of Police head John Williamson have formed a partnership that does not bode well for citizens.

“I call on Mr. Willliamson to resign as the FOP president for this disgraceful partnership he has formed with Ali Sloan-El,” says Cappelli.

But Williamson says he’s not going anywhere.

“I was elected to protect the best interests of my members and assure the health and welfare of the police department,” he responded.

And as for that partnership with Sloan-El, who did 15 months in prison for taking a bribe while in office, Williamson says he is comfortable partnering with Sloan-El in this effort.

“He’s paid his debt to society,” says Williamson of Sloan-El.  “He made a mistake and he is (now) advocating for the citizens of Camden.”

Sloan-El  says he expected attacks to come his way but insists the push for a June voter referendum will go on.

Cappelli says the effort to form the countywide force will proceed even if the issue gets on Camden’s ballot.

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