Camden, New Jersey touts big drop in crime numbers

CAMDEN, N.J. (WPVI) -- A city long-plagued by crime is now celebrating some very encouraging news.

Statistics show a big drop on multiple fronts: Since 2012 - which is considered the high water mark of violent crime - murders are down 67 percent, robberies are down 53 percent, and aggravated assaults are down 31 percent.

A resident who lives in a section once dubbed the "heroin highway," which had rampant open-air drug sales and violence, says things have changed.

"I can walk down the street at night in peace. I could not do that before," said Maria Reyes, who has lived in Camden for 59 years.

"People feel safer now to leave their homes, sit on front steps, let their children ride bicycles," said Camden County Police Chief Scott Thomson.

Sister Helen Cole has run Guadalupe Family Services for decades. She sees a quality of life win for her neighbors.

Police squeeze out dealers, then out-of-town drug users go away, break-ins go down, and decorations go up.

"People hung up decorations and they are still hanging. They have not been stolen because they don't have drug addicts stealing them, trying to sell them for five dollars so they can get their next hit," Cole said.

As people reclaim their neighborhoods, they trust police more, and more crimes are solved.

"People are cooperating. People are giving information we need to remove bad people from the streets. That's because of trust," said Thomson.

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