The Minneapolis City Council voted to disband police and the media fueled the talks that Camden, New Jersey is a role model for police reform. That tragic truth is that the force was indeed modified, titles were changed and the number of police increases from 250 to 411.
“Camden Rising” is Camden’s redevelopment plan, created by powerful non-Camden residents, aimed at attracting young, white professionals to move there.
This involved reform to education, housing, economics, and public safety, moving authority from Camden’s primarily Black and Latino residents to county and state officials. The 2013 creation of the CCPD was integral to the Camden Rising redevelopment strategy of recasting Camden, long viewed in local and popular media as “dangerous,” as now “safe.”
How affordable and effective has this reform been?
According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s new 2019 report, the average cost for a two bedroom apartment at fair market rate in Camden County is $1,200. The annual income needed to afford it is $48,000. A renter must work 104 hours at the minimum wage per week to afford the two bedroom apartment.
“They don’t take the cameras into the inner city and show you the abandon condominiums and the addicts that sleep on the steps and stuff like that, and that’s the problem with Camden,” said Camden resident Norman Carter to the NJTV News.
Then New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie slashed Camden’s “Transitional Aid” from $69 million in 2011 to a meager $10 million in 2012, which resulted in cuts to city services and libraries and included laying off firefighters and 167 police officers.
Camden was the nation’s most dangerous city in 2012, so they laid off the remaining 270 Camden police officers and the city’s 140-year-old police force was terminated.
At the end of 2012, the Camden Police Department was plagued by rising crime, budget cuts, layoffs, and low morale. In 2013, the new CCPD was approaching fully staffed status, with 411 officers, up from 250, and stocked with the latest crime-fighting technology.
President Obama toured Camden in 2015 as officials touted the surveillance and monitoring technology.
Since then, Camden has reverted to a range of 20 to 30 homicides per year, even with the fully staffed CCPD. Camden has ranked as the 10th-most-dangerous city in America and is still the most dangerous city in New Jersey.
Business Insider reports:
In 2010, Camden had roughly 77,000 residents; today, the number is closer to 70,000. In addition to fewer people, there are also fewer public housing complexes, less affordable housing, and fewer Section 8 offerings within city limits. There is also a widely held suspicion among Camden residents that violent crimes are going unreported in media and reclassified at department headquarters as nonviolent offenses.
So, when #Disbandpolice or #defundpolice trends again or gets headlines in your town, ask what will be done and how will this really impact the community.
As Norman Carter said: They don’t show you the entire story.