By David Madden

CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) — Long-sought changes in police protection for Camden, NJ residents and businesses finally took effect this year.

Pressed by high crime rates and a payroll that the City of Camden just couldn’t sustain, the county toko over control of the city’s police department in April.

County freeholder Lou Cappelli got the State of New Jersey to waive civil service rules (see related story) and cough up millions of dollars to cover the cost of the changeover.

“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,” he said at the time.

The city’s police union fought against the change (see related story), only to see many of their rank and file make the switch to the county force.  In time, a new FOP lodge was formed to hammer out a contract with the county (see related story).

The city also implemented a long-sought business curfew late in the year, aimed at curbing the local drug trade (see related story).

Does all this make Camden any safer? Statistics suggest yes (see related story).  But with more officers on the street, many insist that people at least feel safer.

More 2013 Year in Review stories