New agency takes over E-mail
Written by APB Staff   

The idea behind the new countywide police force in Camden, New Jersey is to provide the same level of service with fewer people getting paid less.According to a recent article in the Camden Star Ledger, Gov. Chris Christie introduced the new police force in May. Christie says the new force will take back the city’s most dangerous streets and save neighborhoods from a rising tide of crime. At an “invitation only” news conference with local leaders and newly sworn officers with the new agency, Christie promised that the force would have 400 police officers by the end of the year.

If that pans out the Camden County force would have 117 more officers than the Camden PD had. Better yet, Christie says the increased manpower comes at no extra cost to the taxpayer.

The increase in cost has been passed on to cops with the new agency in the form of lower salaries and the abolition of collective bargaining.

In addition, the state would pitch in at least $120 million to the city this year Christie said. No wonder everyone keeps talking about this guy as presidential candidate. You have to be a pretty good politician to say the “state” is kicking in more than a hundred million so the taxpayers don’t have to and not get called out on it.

"Camden needed the help they’re getting today and they needed it badly," Christie bellowed from the stage where his invited guests glad-handed and backslapped.

"I can’t sugarcoat what the reality was. The reality was citizens feeling unsafe and risking their lives merely by walking the streets. The basics of public safety were diminished, and we needed to rebuild them."

And in yet another clear indication that the labels R or D don’t matter the way they used to, Christie enjoys tremendous support from New Jersey Democrats - including the mayor of the city that no longer has a police department.

"We will be proud when Camden is no longer in the top five of the most dangerous cities in America," said Mayor Dana Redd, a Democrat, praising Christie and local and state officials for joining forces.

Christie has said that police salaries had grown to unacceptable levels after years of sweetheart deals between "often-corrupt" former city officials and union negotiators.

More than 150 members of the former Camden police department have joined the regional force. Brannigan says he believes that they will be allowed to form a union after one year.

The Republican governor, vying for re-election, got a hero’s welcome from state and local Democratic leaders for shutting down the Camden PD, including Senate President Stephen Sweeney.

"It’s not about Republicans or Democrats," said State Sen. Donald Norcross (D-Camden), who led the efforts in the Legislature.

And the police department is just the beginning.

Last March, Christie announced the state would be taking over Camden’s school district. He said that move, combined with the regional police department, were the two keys to bringing the city back.

Outside the staged media event, more than a dozen former Camden officers held a silent demonstration to show their opposition.

A former sergeant of the city police, Melvin Wayes, was arrested by a member of the new force for attempting to leave the designated demonstration area, The South Jersey Times reported.

Tracey Hall, a 20-year police officer who didn’t join the new force, said the terms offered were "insulting."

“It was shoved down our throat," she said.

"We were told a lot of us weren’t getting our seniority, a lot of the guys that were close to retirement would have to work another 10 to 15 years."

And one last point. Is anyone still wondering how they’re going to provide the same service at much lower cost?

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