Camden, Atlantic City rehire police officers

May 23, 2011 3:53:21 PM PDT
Camden officials say they're using a $4.3 million federal grant to rehire 19 police officers.

The southern New Jersey city, which ranks among the nation's poorest and most crime-ridden, laid off 167 officers - nearly half the force - in January as it struggled with a budget crisis.

The city was able to hire back 55 officers a month ago under a deal with Gov. Chris Christie's administration that provided $2.5 million in state funding to keep them on the payroll through July 1. Mayor Dana Redd has said she expects they will be retained under the new city budget that takes effect on that date.

The 19 additional officers were sworn in Monday, bringing the total number of officers rehired to 74.

"This is all I've ever dreamed of, actually. This is my dream job and I'm very glad to be here," said Officer Daniel Marcano.

"Serve and protect at this point. I'm just glad we're back - all of us," said Officer Tawand Smith.

The city received the funding through a U.S. Justice Department COPS Hiring Program grant.

Meanwhile, Atlantic City also rehired 25 police officers today. That city lost 60 officers last year because of budget cuts. A.C. had hoped to get its force back up to 325 in time for the busy summer season.

"Especially coming into the summer season when we're always busier than the rest of the year. This is very significant for us to get these officers back before Memorial Day," said Deputy Chief Ernest Jubilee.