Ceremony launches Camden County Police

May 1, 2013 2:23:12 PM PDT
The Camden police force has ceased to exist.

At 3pm Wednesday, the job of protecting and serving the citizens of the crime-plagued city was handed over to a new county-run force. The plan is to get more boots on the streets for the same cost.

But not everybody is happy about the changeover.

The new county police department rolled out officially on the streets of Camden. As it happened, elementary students at Parkside were enjoying the beautiful weather planting a rain garden. It was a welcome sight in the Fairview neighborhood of Camden. Just a few months ago, the students looked out their school windows to a very different scene.

"They just had a shooting over at the school what 3 months ago," said Camden resident Frank Lloyd. "The kids could look out the back of the school and see blood there."

The new Camden County Police officially took over patrol today of the city of Camden but they began patrols here on Monday.

Neighbors tell Action News they rarely saw police in their neighborhood before. Now their presence is clear. There will be more than 400 officers in the new county department as compared to 200 before in the city.

However, not everyone is on board with the change.

Former Camden city police officers who were laid off marched to today's ceremony to make a stand, claiming the plan is flawed and will not ensure citizens' safety.

"The root of what we're doing is to secure neighborhoods so that children can play in the streets," said Chief Scott Thomson of the new Camden County Police. "We've had success in the first month and I'm excited to come over and join a winning team."

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie took part in today's official swearing-in of the county police chief.

For now the new Camden County Police Department will patrol the city of Camden. The goal is to eventually move into more of the outlying areas of the county.