By David Madden and Cleve Bryan
CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) — New Jersey governor Chris Christie made several stops in Camden today, to highlight some of the changes his administration has made to benefit the city.
“We need every once in a while to remind ourselves that we’re making progress and that things are going better,” said Christie to a crowd that included crime stopping volunteers called the “interrupters.”
The governor noted that crime is down a lot since the new Camden County Police Metro Division took over patrols in Camden. Murders are down 46 percent his summer, compared to last, and shootings are down 71 percent during the same period.
County officials say this was the safest summer in 30 years for Camden.
“I’m extremely proud of the men and women of this organization who have connected with the community. And when you have the neighborhood everything is possible,” said Chief Scott Thomson on stage with Christie and Mayor Dana Redd.
There are two major economic development projects in the works, with more to come.
The restructuring of the police department from city to county patrol almost two years ago meant more bike and foot patrols for officers.
Five-year-veteran officer Michael Harper admits at first there was reluctance to spending more time peddling and walking.
“Initially no one of course no one wants to do more manual, physical labor however it grows on you and you actually start to see the effects of it,” says Harper.
Those effects including more people reporting to police what’s going on in their neighborhoods.
“So now residents and citizens of Camden are coming up to us and giving us good information on good hot spots of the area,” says Harper.
Christie lavished praise on politicians of both parties and the community at large.
“You’re taking control of the city and returning it, and the hope of a better day, to your children your grandchildren,” he said.
And while the governor conceded there’s still more work to do, he says it doesn’t hurt to take a look back and admire what’s already been done.
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