New crimefighting plan for Camden

July 30, 2008 9:05:30 PM PDT
The show of lights and sirens was designed to signal a new era of crime fighting in Camden. To combat a seemingly endless scourge of crime, Camden is tripling the number of police on the street by redeploying detectives and officers with desk jobs to patrol posts a few days a week. It's part of a new anti-crime effort under Camden's new police chief Scott Thompson.

"We're sending a clear message to the criminals, to the cops and to the citizens that change is here, and that we will leverage these types of resources to combat any issues that may arise."

Now, police patrols will report to a central command center that determines where coverage is needed most to prevent or combat crime on any given day or night.

Residents along Mt. Ephraim Avenue were surprised to see so many police in the neighborhood with no crime at hand. Many believe the stepped up patrols can cut into crime.

"It's better for our children," Angela Williams said. "Better for our children to make it safe on the streets."

"We were all there. And it was just so terrible," said Nikera, whose 19-year-old friend just became Camden's 100th shooting & 34th murder victim. She prays bolstered patrols will save lives.

But on the heels of 6 police chiefs in 7 years, and several failed anti-crime efforts, some local activists are hesitant to embrace this new anti crime initiative.

"The same issue, going through all these chiefs. Going through all these new leaders that come up, it's the same old story," said Camden resident Rosa Ramirez.

Police understand resident skepticism, acknowledging this is the latest in a series of anti crime measures. But they contend this is different.

"We're not only are we seeing what's happening in real time," says Inspector Michael Lynch. "But we're projecting where problems are going to be and we can get out in front of the crime and stop it before it happens."

Police officials are convinced this new plan will prevent crime, save lives and generally improve the quality of life for Camden residents.

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