New era of law enforcement in Camden

May 1, 2013 5:34:03 AM PDT
Camden typically ranks as one of the nation's most dangerous cities, and efforts are underway to change that.

"The creed of our new organization, you'll see it emblazoned upon our badge is, 'service before self,'" Camden County Police Chief Scott Thomson said.

Key to the new focus is the department's on foot presence in some of the city's most crime-ridden neighborhoods, places like Parkside and Fairview, where law-abiding residents are like prisoners in their own homes.

"If we can be that guardian figure in the neighborhood and we can give the people a sense of security, and they know us and trust us, they're gonna come out of their homes," Thomson said.

For the first time in decades, Camden has state of the art technology to help police fight the good fight in this longtime seemingly war torn city.

Camden now has an 'eye in the sky' program, 121 cameras across the city being monitored around the clock by civilian police aides. There is a real time live feed of where every police car is at any given time.

"If an emergency occurs and they happen to be the closest unit to the emergency, our system automatically locates that unit and routes them to the call," Thomson said.

There also microphones across the city that alert police whenever a gunshot is fired and where. Police say since the new foot patrols were deployed three weeks ago in Parkside, something unprecedented has happened.

"There actually has not been a gunshot recorded by this microphone system that is in those neighborhoods," Thomson said.

The hard fought battle to make this county police force a reality was spearheaded by Camden County Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli.

"My hope is that the people of Camden can enjoy safe neighborhoods, just like the people of Cherry Hill or Voorhees can. The people of Camden for too long endured some very difficult circumstances with regard to public safety," Cappelli said.

The department presently has 260 officers and expects to have 401 by the fall.

Governor Chris Christie, who pledged state funds for this police force, will be on hand this afternoon when the department will be formally launched.