Camden hires coordinator for police change

CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) - August 29, 2012 Camden Mayor Dana Redd introduced former New Jersey State Police Major Lanuel Ferguson on Wednesday as the city's new Public Safety Consultant.

It will be his job to oversee the transition from the city's current police department, which is being dissolved, to the new county-run metro division which may have up to 400 officers, and to represent the city's interests during the changeover.

"We want the citizens of Camden to know that we are coming, and that we hear their calls and we hear their cries and we hear and see the fear that they are experiencing," said Mayor Redd.

The county police force is a new agency. But so far, no town besides Camden has agreed to hand over its patrols.

"There will be working for a period of time with Camden Police Department, and that will be their breaking period," said Ferguson.

The city will lay off all of its 270 police officers who can re-apply to the county force. It is a controversial move designed to save money, and to provide more protection to residents.

Police unions are trying to stop the change.

Mayor Redd also said Wednesday that in an effort to fight exploding crime rates, the city will now limit the hours late night restaurants and stores.

As of September 17, stores can be opened from 6 to 11:00pm Monday through Thursday and 6:00 to 12:00 midnight on Friday and Saturday.

"It should cut down a lot of the crime from people who hang out a lot at the stores," said Yvonne Hinds. "I think it is a good idea."

"It's just a loitering for those undesirables," said Clarence Bagwell from the Antioch Baptist Church."You go to Cherry Hill, you go to Haddonfield; the sidewalks are rolled up."

"It is a good idea at night for the community to keep everybody safe, but for the businesses, they have to make their money," one resident said. And some say limiting hours will hurt business and is not fair.

"It's not the solution," said one business owner. "You want to close the stores, the businesses, it is not the solution."

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