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Crime-Ridden Town Struggling After Half of Police Force Gets Laid Off

Crime-Ridden Town Struggling After Half of Police Force Gets Laid Off

A Camden Police Department officer patrols along Broadway in Camden on Thursday, 2 December 2010. The state has approved a plan to lay off over 300 public workers in Camden, including about half of the police department.

The Star-Leger via YellowBrix

January 19, 2011

CAMDEN — If you get into a car accident in Camden, the city’s chief of police has this advice: Don’t bother calling the cops unless there are injuries or blocked traffic. Likewise, don’t call about vandalism. Or minor thefts.

With the city’s police force cut almost in half by layoffs, Chief Scott Thomson said his department no longer has the manpower to respond to such calls. Not in Camden, which has struggled with graver problems like homicide, gun violence and drug dealing.

Thanks to the city’s budget crisis, 168 officers — almost almost every one hired since 1998 — were shown the door today. That leaves about 200 officers to police one of the country’s poorest and most dangerous cities.

“We have eliminated clerical functions, we have eliminated virtually all of our administrative functions,” Thomson said. “Look, this is not going to be easy, we understand that. But again, the mission will be maintained and we will be able to provide public safety for our people.”

Other police agencies around the state have cut back, but nowhere have cuts been as deep as in Camden.

“I’ve never heard of a layoff of this proportion,” said Rutgers Police Institute Executive Director Wayne Fisher.

Mayor Dana Redd and the police union held a last-ditch meeting Monday night but failed to reach an agreement.

“Instead of protecting and serving the city, the residents of Camden, they’re choosing to protect their high salaries,” Redd said. She said union concessions could still bring back 100 officers, but didn’t provide details.

The Fraternal Order of Police said the deal would have included a 20 percent pay cut. Union officials said they were open to wage freezes and furlough days.

“To say the union isn’t bringing anything to the table is just not right,” said Ed Brannigan, president of the state union. “But there’s only so much you can give. How much blood do you have?”

Cuts to the police department were the largest chunk of the city’s layoff plan, and one-sixth of the city’s public workers were axed today. That included 67 firefighters and 100 non-uniformed employees such as clerks.

“I’ve dreaded this day,” City Council President Frank Moran said. “We’ve looked under every rock, turned over every stone, to really look at measures that would save as many jobs as possible.”

Camden has a $26.5 million deficit and is expecting to collect only $21 million in local tax revenue for a $138 million budget. The state is already providing Camden $69 million in financial aid for struggling towns, and the State Police have a regular presence in the city. Gov. Chris Christie last month warned Camden shouldn’t expect any more help, saying, “We are not going to have the taxpayers of New Jersey be an open checkbook.”

Advertisements run by the police union say Camden may become a “living hell.” One flier shows a robber pointing a handgun at a cowering store clerk under the title “Welcome to Camden.”

Camden County Prosecutor Warren Faulk is not concerned about basic patrols because a restructuring of the police department is pushing more officers to the street. The problem is the behind-the-scenes work that lead to indictments and convictions, he said.

“It’s really the follow-up after arrests and the longer-term investigations that are going to suffer,” he said. The prosecutor’s office also faces cutbacks, submitting a plan to the Civil Service Commission that would eliminate 68 employees, including 26 investigators and 18 assistant prosecutors.

  • Decepticons_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Redd said the Police want to keep their "HIGH" salaries? I wonder what she gets as a salary, including the other perks allowed to politicians. I say the people of Camden should lay her off as well in the coming elections. But we all know how fickle the general public is, they complain about politicians but refuse to properly vote to get their voice heard. Ex: BO and the changesd White House.

  • Idf_soldier_and_kittyimage2_max50


    over 3 years ago


    And if the good citizens of Camden want to get a CC license to protect themselves, they'll just have to sleep with the governor, otherwise there is no CC in NJ. A ridiculous state.

  • Donut_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Where are the bailouts now? If we can bailout the banks and auto industry, why can't we bailout our local goverments?

  • Steve_mcqueen_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Published several months ago the up coming condition of lay offs was discussed on this forum relating to the present lay offs. New Jersey is rivaled only by California at $78,460, according to the federal statistics. Illinois trails in third with $69,900. New York is ninth at $60,620, Connecticut 10th at $60,490, and Pennsylvania 19th at $54,140.

    Rank County Median Police Pay
    1 Bergen $109,700
    2 Middlesex $97,022
    3 Ocean $95,946
    4 Morris $95,164
    5 Monmouth $95,016
    6 Somerset $94,486
    7 Mercer $93,246
    8 Passaic $92,756
    9 Essex $90,160
    10 Hudson $90,082
    11 Union $88,150
    12 Sussex $86,690
    13 Cape May $84,572
    14 Atlantic $83,440
    15 Hunterdon $81,864
    16 Warren $80,420
    17 Burlington $80,011
    18 Camden $79,686
    19 Gloucester $78,872
    20 Cumberland $72,100
    21 Salem $68,792

  • 321910_276082379080571_275962482425894_1020326_77530166_o_max50


    over 3 years ago


    This reminds me of the depiction of Detroit in Robocop.. This budget and recession is getting out of control and it's the citizens who pay for it. I think priorities are screwed up here. "Well we don't have any money for public safety but we're also pleased to annouce that John Doe has been signed a 13 million dollar contract for football this year"..... Yes I know that footballs players money does not come from municipal or state budgets but stil.....

  • Radio2_max50


    over 3 years ago


    What I see are the high priced politicians are trying to keep their incomes safe. So, what they do is eliminate public safety. Maybe if they cut their salaries then maybe a lot of these job cuts could have been avoided. It is a matter of greed for these people.

    I sure hope those that were let go can find some type of work.

  • Tribal_cat_tattoo__2__max50


    over 3 years ago


    I don't understand how a city can just lay off 1/2 the police force. The police are what keeps us safe from harm 24/7. If we don't have enough of them, what are we supposed to do??? Just like firefighters! So, if I call 911 for an emergency, I'm not going to receive help in time because my State can't balance a checkbook? This is NOT where you want to make cut backs! Not in Public Service.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    The officer's pay should not be a prime target here. The city should look at spending as a whole. Sheriff Joe Arpaia (forgive the spelling sheriff) has done wonders to save tax dollars in Maricopa Co. Using prison labor to lessen the cost of paying public works employees to do work in and around the area is a huge savings. Also the city should look at how it uses utlities and such, maybe selling some properties and other trimmings could help. I looked into the reports through the news and didn't find much on how the mayor had assessed spending in the city other than cutting the public safety departments.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago

    Most unbelieveable thing I've ever heard of .I lived in the East for many years and know Camden.Cutting half the officers in Camden is pretty much tantamount to ordering firefighters to pour gas on the flames at the scene of a major fire.Of course the poor citizens of Camden can count on the criminal element to behave themselves till the city officials can rescue their budget---L.O.L.

  • New-patch_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Very bad. THat place is a mess and not with 1/2 the force gone it's going to be very dangerous for the officers on the street there.

  • Angel_kincaid_park_2014_max50


    over 3 years ago


    This is a very sad day! God be with us all, Keep our LEO'S Safe Lord.
    I pray in these times for you Lord to stay in front of them and shield them from harm, Stay behind them and give them strength to go forward, and walk beside them and give them Faith, for they are your Warriors Lord.
    In this I ask in Jesus name

  • 582602_3283682777720_334551836_n_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Pretty Soon we Will Need Signs On the GSP, I95 & NJ Turnpike that Says: Welcome To New Jersey, The Garden State. Visitors Due to Ridiculous Layoffs, The Garden State is no longer "Gaurding" you Azz, so please remain in your Vehicle until you Cross State Lines. For More Info, Go to: Curtis/Sliwa/is/not/a/Media/prop/and/will/really/save/ , or you can go to: My/family/looked/back/as/they/left/TheCityofCamden/and/turned/into/a/pillar/of/

  • 0524001248_0001_0001_max50


    over 3 years ago


    This is a sad day for those who have put their lives on the line in Camden only to be shown the door. I hope that those Officers that saw this coming were able to get another job lined up. There is nothing permanent anymore. Maybe the academies should put a freeze on new recruits for a little bit, to allow Officers who are being laid off to fill in the gap. I remember trying to get a job when I got out of the academy and at that time there was a hiring freeze in South GA. You had to know someone to get in or be related, in which I was neither. I really don't know much about Camden other than watching Comedy Central tonight make fun of a devastating situation. My prayers and thoughts go out to the families of Officer's who are in need at this time.

  • Nj_508th_mp_co_max50


    over 3 years ago


    In fact all of our states major cities have been affected. Atlantic City 60, Newark 167, Camden 168, Jersey City 82 if the talks implode, Patterson may even lay off as well. And a plethora of other NJ municipalities are crying broke. Its really a sad state of affairs in jersey and the political climate has created a private vs public sector war. Mean while our brother ofc. Chris Matloz made the ultimate sacrifice and the public has still thinks we're overpaid bullies. Unfortunately myself and 166 of my fellow coworkers have also become casualties of this financial fiasco. Prayers to us all.

  • 1979_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Totally stupid to lay off the police and Firefighters. This is simply a political tactic to say that the city needs to tax more and more. Instead they should be cutting services ion all these other areas that are not vital such as over half the Mayors staff, the City's PR group that tries to make the Mayor looks good and all these other political hacks. Not only have they basically fired so many good men and women, they have left themselves open to so much more problems for their city and their citizens.

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