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Camden Nixes Hiring Of Civilian Police Director

Camden Nixes Hiring Of Civilian Police Director

Philadelphia Inquirer via YellowBrix

July 14, 2011

CAMDEN, NJ – If timing is everything, Camden Mayor Dana L. Redd needs to check her watch.

Redd became the target of justifiable criticism this week with her poorly-timed decision to appoint a civilian director to help run the understaffed Police Department.

Only a few months ago, Camden was in such dire financial straits that Redd ordered massive layoffs of police officers and firefighters. Some were later rehired, but not everyone got their jobs back.

Nonetheless, Redd now claims that Camden can afford to shell out $100,000 to pay a civilian to oversee a department that already has a competent leader in Chief Scott Thomson. She appointed retired state police Maj. Lanuel J. Ferguson to be the civilian leader in the department.

“We have the money,” Redd told reporters. OK, but is hiring another bureaucrat who will have no actual role in crime fighting the best use for it?

Not in a violent city that has been ranked as one of the most dangerous places in the country.

Also consider that Camden appears to be one of the strongest candidates to buy into an effort to form a Camden County regional police department.

Why would the city create a new post for a force that may soon be phased out?

Ferguson follows a string of previous civilian police directors whose short tenures were unremarkable. The position has been vacant since 2009.

By a 4-2 vote Tuesday, City Council refused to approve the hiring. But Redd believes she has the authority to make the appointment without approval by Council.

Camden needs an adequate number of police officers to keep residents and visitors safe, not another costly layer of bureaucracy.

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