Outcry over Camden police, tax measures

CAMDEN - August 9, 2011

"The proposed 2012 budget decreases our health care costs; it does not anticipate any layoffs or furloughs," Redd said.

That may be, except for very possibly the members of the Camden Police Department.

The city continues to explore joining a new county wide department which is being developed in consultation with former Philadelphia Police Commissioner John Timoney, a nationally recognized figure on public safety.

"Public safety has been a long standing issue for Camden City for over a decade or more where we've been ranked in the top 5 as the most dangerous city in America and we want to change that perception and that paradigm," Redd said.

If the city goes with a regional plan, Camden's police department would likely be dissolved and the county would only be required to hire 49% of its officers, much to the anger of the Fraternal Order of Police.

"In any war, if there're issues with the army, you don't trade the whole army, you trade the general," Camden FOP President John Williamson said.

Williamson is referring to the department's police chief, Scott Tomson.

The union vows to wage a plan of attack against the mayor's proposal and the members of council who, as Williamson put it, "have decided to sell their army down the river."

"We're just not going to sit back and let this happen," Williamson said.

Meanwhile, residents, some carrying signs and placards, were also outraged at new higher property tax reassessments that some contend are meant to drive the working class and poor out of Camden.

The mayor, however, denies that belief.

"My administration is not trying to push any resident out of the city of Camden; we want to work with our residents on the appeal process to further their understanding of how to make the appeal to the appropriate body," Redd said.

Mayor Redd says residents had a chance to appeal the reassessments back in January, but only 38 did so.

She says they will have another opportunity in January of next year to appeal the state mandated reassessments.

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