Friday, January 21, 2011

Camden NJ Loses Half Its Police Force

 Recently, the police chiefs of five major Northeastern cities gathered privately at a Philadelphia hotel to brainstorm ways for the Camden, N.J., police department to weather the impending layoff of nearly half its police force.

Among the solutions they came up with, according to Newark Police Director Garry McCarthy, were to have Camden partner with federal agencies like the Drug Enforcement Agency; streamline the bureaucracy so each precinct operates independently rather than answering to a larger bureau; and try to build morale among the remaining officers. 

When Newark cut its force in 2010, McCarthy says, he looked at its thinned ranks as a positive change. "We've become like the U.S. Marine Corps, that does everything with nothing," he says. 

But Camden's getting hit a lot harder than Newark. Newark lost 164 officers, or 16 percent of its police force. On Tuesday, Camden's budget crisis forced the city to lay off 168 officers, cutting its force by 46 percent. (Camden also laid off 67 firefighters and more than 100 other municipal workers.) As a result, the city's police chief says his department can't respond to traffic accidents in which no injuries are reported. Same with vandalism and petty theft. Long-term investigations will take a back seat to short-term emergencies.

Imagine the indignity foisted upon the heads of a police department that must now...gasp...actually hire competent people to do the policing, as opposed to the affirmative action types that were brought onboard for not much else than their generous smiles. Everyone with a well-worn birth certificate remembers a time when police used to stop bank robbers and all sorts of ne'er do wells, but that changed once municipalities saw how lucrative it could be to teach cops to do not much more than hide behind billboards and issue summonses, and lurk throughout the darkest hours waiting to spring rolling DUI-stops.

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