By David Madden
CAMDEN, N.J., (CBS) – After two years of battles, some of them ugly, Camden has seen its police force transition from city to county control. And there’s a pledge to take its ranks to 400 by the end of the year. KYW’s David Madden has the story from Camden.
Camden’s police force has come under control of the county, with more than half of those now patrolling the streets coming from the old department, and plans to grow their numbers by year’s end. Their numbers will grow to 400 by Christmas. The goal is to take Camden off the list of America’s most dangerous cities.
Even a transition ceremony attended by the Governor was accompanied by controversy. A dozen former cops stood outside with some of their ex-colleagues keeping them in line. But for those on hand for a moment some thought would never come, this was a time to look ahead.
“To the drug dealers, drug buyers and gang members, I have a simple message for all of you. Your days in this city are numbered. The residents of this city who make it invincible will prevail,” said Camden County Freeholder Director Lou Cappelli.
The new force has been slowly integrated onto Camden’s streets over the last few weeks. And officials insist they’re making a difference. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie says this was about providing more police protection for an impoverished city that needs it.
“We can now count on a larger, rejuvenated police force genuinely dedicated, I believe, to helping to restore neighborhoods,” said Christie.
State money will foot most of the bill for this force, the first of its kind in the state. The new Chief, Scott Thompson, used to run the old force. But he and his force have a new mantra they vow to follow – service above self.