Sign Of The Times? Broke, Crime Ridden City To Lay Off ENTIRE Police Force!

Posted on August 28, 2012

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New Jersey (The Gaslamp Post) – A city that has had to rely on years of state and federal cash in order to function is finally arriving at its day of reckoning.  It has recently been announced that as a means to keep the city of Camden financially viable, the city government has planned to lay off it’s entire police force.

At the end of this month the city is planning on disbanding it’s 460 member police force and enacting a plan to employ a county based, “metro division.”  Of those officers previously employed by the city of Camden, only 49 percent will be transferring to the new county force.

An interview from 2011 shows just how bad things have gotten for Camden financially.

A dangerous move some say, for a city which just a few years ago, had stripped the city of Detroit, Michigan, as the most dangerous city in America.  It has since lost its title to Chicago, Illinois.

Since its financial troubles began to rise to the level so serious that in 2005 the state was asked to step in, the Camden Police Department has been under the control of the state of New Jersey.

While many in both the state and local government see it as an alternative to simply letting the city fail completely, others within the ranks of the police union choose to see it as a means of stripping away the collective bargaining rights of police officers.

“This is definitely a form of union-busting,” Camden Fraternal Order of Police President John Williamson told FoxNews.com. “This method is unproven and untested, to put your faith in an agency that doesn’t even [yet] exist.”

“The officers who are getting laid off are going to have to be the ones who train their replacements,” Williamson said.

Another spokesman for the Camden Fraternal Order of Police, Scot DeCristofaro told NPR that, “This is a creative way to break a union and break the financial obligations you have to a union.”

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has publicly come out in support of this plan as an alternative to seeing the city crumble under bankruptcy.

“A county police force that has a reasonable contract, and that’s going to provide a huge increase in the number of police officers on the streets here in Camden, is a win for everybody,” Christie said at a recent event at Rutgers-Camden University, where he signed a reform bill for higher education. “I’m willing to put my name on the line for this concept.”

However, other news outlets and opponents of this plan are quick to point out that statistically, a city as notorious as Camden needs as many officers on the streets as possible.  Some feel that no price tag can be put on good police service.

The city of Camden has more crime than 97 per cent of cities in the US. The city hosts 1,846 violent crimes per year, with an average of 37 murders, 73 rapes, 713 robberies and 1,023 cases of assault. In 2004, Camden was named America’s most dangerous city, taking the title away from Detroit.

“Not too long ago, we [were] considered the worst city in crime in the nation and what do they do? Give up the cops,” said Larry Shaw, who was rallying outside of the police headquarters in protest of the decision. “The cops that are here now are more than just cops. I mean you can talk to them, they know the people and they’re your friends and they protect you.”

Camden follows other major cities throughout the U.S. which have similar problems due to lacking the revenue generation in order to cover their public sector employee obligations.  Earlier this year Detroit, Michigan, a city which was also faced with state takeover due to its exorbitant deficit and with no such plan to cover its own public safety personnel has had to resort to simply letting building burn down and emergency calls to go unheeded.

Earlier this year, a 9-year-old boy fell to his death at a housing project and EMS failed to respond after numerous calls.  The boys body was taken to the hospital in the back of a police car where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

(h/t:  Freedom In Our Time)