By Jim Donovan

CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) — As conversations about police reform take place around the country, one place that is being talked about is the City of Camden, New Jersey. The city’s police force was dissolved and replaced with a countywide police department in 2013.

Camden County Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli Jr. talked with Eyewitness News about the transition and its impact on the city.

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Cappelli Jr. says the transition happened because the city was going through a fiscal and public safety crisis.

“The city could no longer afford the union contracts of the police department and crime had skyrocketed,” Cappelli said. “We had 67 murders in 2012 in Camden. So there needed to be drastic changes in order to protect the residents and to make sure the residents took back the streets of their city.”

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At the time, Camden had some of the highest crime rates in the country. Since then, the city has introduced a community policing model.

“We formed a task force with city residents and leaders, and developed a model of policing, community policing, that has been implemented,” Cappelli said. “That has reduced crime drastically, so police officers are trained extensively in community policing, in de-escalation techniques, when they are trained and hit the ground running, they literally go door-to-door in the city with their cards, introduce themselves to residents and begin forming a relationship that is necessary between the residents of the city and a police department.”

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