By Steve Tawa
CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) — The City of Camden, NJ has received the go-ahead to lay off all of its uniformed police officers, in a step toward creating a new, county-run police force.
With the approval of the New Jersey Civil Service Commission, the dismantling of the city’s police department, about 260 officers, is tentatively scheduled for April 30th.
Camden has often been tagged with being one of the most violent cities in America. The city of 77,000 had 67 homicides in 2011.
“We’re going to take back the streets of Camden,” Camden County freeholder director Louis Cappelli Jr. said today.
Cappelli says that right now just over 90 officers are assigned to the streets, but under the country-run “metro” plan, the number of officers on the streets would triple.
“There will be 400 sworn officers,” he says, “and of those, 313 will be on the streets of Camden city.”
The county is negotiating with the state over start-up costs. The annual operational budget is believed to be in the range of $62 million to $64 million. The City of Camden would pay Camden County for the operation of the metro division.
Camden’s Fraternal Order of Police, the union representing city officers, has tried to resist the move. Cappelli expects about 100 current Camden officers could get folded into the new metro division.