Camden, NJ – The Camden Police Department is being disbanded due to fiscal woes. The city is reportedly often referred to as one of the most dangerous and high-crime areas in America. In an effort to relieve budgetary stress due to increased public employee expenses, Camden is closing its 460-member police department, according to Fox News. Although the Camden Police Department will no longer exist, residents will continue to receive services via the Metro Division of the Camden County Police Department.
Metro Division Camden County Police officers will be non-union employees. The Camden Metro Division officers will adhere to the same training and ethics standards as union employees, but will reportedly save the taxpayers millions of dollars while maintaining public safety. Supporters of the Camden Police Department closure believe the change in police coverage will not decrease public safety and is an appropriate cost-saving measure, the Philadelphia Inquirer notes.
Camden Police Department closure opponents claim the city’s decision is a form of union busting. Approximately 49 percent of current Camden police officers will be transferred to the Metro Division of the Camden County Police agency and will undergo five months of training before hitting the streets again.
“This is definitely a form of union busting. This method is unproven and untested, to put your faith in an agency that doesn’t even yet exist,” Camden Fraternal Order of Police President John Williamson stated during an interview with Fox News. “The officers who are getting laid off are going to have to be the ones who train their replacements.”
The Camden Police Department has been under New Jersey state control since 2005. A “power struggle” between the department and then-Mayor Gwendolyn Faison allegedly prompted the Camden mayor to ask for state supervision. The Camden Police Department state arrangement will soon expire and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie supports the transfer of police duties to the county agency.