New leader for Camden police

January 7, 2008 2:59:59 PM PST
Camden is getting a change in police leadership for the fifth time in less than six years.

The latest configuration makes the most sense for a city that has consistently ranked among the nation's most dangerous, said Attorney General Anne Milgram, who announced the changes on Monday. But it also promises more changes before long.

The new structure creates two top leadership posts, a civilian police director and a uniformed chief of police.

John Huertas, a former major in the state police who had been working as the head of security of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey becomes acting police director, filling a civilian post devoted largely to police policy.

He is scheduled to take the position on Tuesday, replacing Arturo Venegas, who has resigned as the civilian head of the department. Venegas was appointed in 2006.

Milgram said there would be a national search for Huertas' replacement.

Milgram also said that Ed Hargis, currently a deputy chief, would become interim chief. Despite a title that suggests otherwise, she said, he would hold that position for the long term. The city has not had a uniformed chief since 2005.

Hargis, who is also to begin his new position Tuesday, will be responsible for the day-to-day management of the department.

The state has had a major role in the Camden Police Department for nearly five years.

Milgram said the measure of success for the new structure will not merely be crime statistics. She said she wants to "make sure people in Camden will feel safe to walk around in the streets. This is the first step forward today."