Camden takes part in new county police force

March 20, 2013 5:19:10 AM PDT
They have begun to fill the roles of the new Camden County Regional Police Force that will be charged with one of the toughest crime-fighting jobs in the area.

At the new Camden County Police Services building in Blackwood, New Jersey, over 100 people applied for jobs in Camden County's new Police Metro Division.

"We have a diverse applicant pool from all over the state, former law enforcement officers, current officers that are active in other towns," Deputy Chief Mike Lynch of the Camden Police Metro Division said.

Among 120 officers hired today was 25-year-old Anthony Rodriguez, who for the last three years worked with the Seaside Heights Police Department.

"I feel like it's a great opportunity, it's gonna be a big department and an opportunity to grow and enrich my career goals," Rodriguez said.

For years, Camden has ranked as one of the most dangerous cities in America.

The nine square mile city is also one of the poorest and had to dissolve its police force last year because it couldn't afford to hire more officers.

This new county department will provide as many as 400 officers when it's fully up and running next month.

"In the neighborhoods, foot patrols, working with the community, learning the community and giving the community an opportunity to also become familiar with them," Lynch said.

The department will also provide state of the art resources unfamiliar to the streets of Camden.

For example, scanners on both sides of patrol cars that can read hundreds of license plate numbers as an officer cruises down a street to determine if they are being sought by law enforcement; GPS equipped cars that will allow dispatchers to know which officer is closest to a crime scene being reported so they can be deployed more quickly and efficiently.

"It's a force multiplier. It allows us to cover more ground with less resources to maximize our capacity to provide public safety to the citizens of Camden," Lynch said.

Among those hired today was an officer who had been laid off from Camden City police, took a job with the Attorney General's office, but decided to come back.

"I am Camden, I bleed Camden, so I care about the people in this city, I still have family in the city and I've always wanted to make a difference in Camden," Officer Will Ramos said.

So far, Camden City is the only municipality taking part in Camden County's new police agency. Other financially-strapped towns are sitting on the sidelines waiting to see how well things work out here before deciding to join in.