Tempers flare over Camden police future

CAMDEN - August 14, 2012

Tempers flared in Camden's City Council meeting Tuesday night over the proposed plan to dismantle the police department.

"We know who the Camden police are, we would much rather strengthen the numbers in our Camden police and fix what's going on in our Camden police," resident Gary Frazier said.

After a march to City Hall earlier in the day, protestors made their way into council chambers.

One by one, residents and supporters of the FOP told council members a county metro police force would be a mistake.

"Just too many holes to be filled for us to come up with a firm decision on it, on whether it's going to be a good thing or an improper thing," resident Thomas Rapacki said.

More than 250 officers would be laid off and given the option to reapply to join a force of 400.

That's a problem for the union along with the fact current contracts with the city would be over.

"We're going to do everything in our power to stop it. We're also trying to get them to come back into the room, sit down at the table," FOP president John Williamson said.

Camden County Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli, Jr. says the FOP is "free to make the attempt to come to a new agreement."

"However, they have given a very pathetic effort so far in trying to come to compromises and give concessions to make it affordable to hire the proper number of officers that are needed for this city," Cappelli said.

Just a few floors up from the council chambers, it was a similar scene in a meeting where angry residents questioned County Freeholders.

City Council President Frank Moran says with 40 murders in the city so far this year and increasing violence something needs to be done.

"Nothing is a done deal until the vote goes down, however, the fact is we cannot tolerate one more murder...we need bigger police presence in our city and we are prepared to act appropriately," Moran said.

The County Freeholders Board is moving forward with the regional police force and hopes to start hiring officers next month to start in January.

Mayor Dana Redd says plenty of residents support this plan because it's right for Camden families.

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