Groups against Camden County Police Department to hold community meetings

On the heels of Camden Mayor Dana Redd’s series of community meetings promoting a plan to replace the city police department with a regional force, a group of people opposed to the proposal will be hosting a counter meeting Thursday.

The newly created Citizens’ Community Committee for Public Safety, along with the Camden Fraternal Order of Police, will conduct a presentation detailing their opposition to the scheme to provide police protection through the “Metro Division” of a new county police department.

The presentation will “outline the important reasons as to why the proposed new Metro Division of the Camden County Police Department will fail and cause further damage to the City of Camden,” a press release states. “Simply put, this plan is not a practical plan, it is a political one, and will not work in our unique environment.”

Redd held nine neighborhood meetings to promote the idea of a countywide force. The concept has been controversial with residents who fear losing veteran officers they’re familiar with. It has also been fiercely opposed by police unions because the majority of current officers would lose their jobs.

Redd has sent out a survey to residents who attended her meetings and has also posted it on the city’s website.
The survey asks residents how safe they feel in their neighborhoods, how often they see a police officer, and it seeks their opinions on the screening process for police applicants. There is also a section for comments and suggestions.

So far, the mayor’s office has received 84 responses.

City and county officials don't yet have an official report on how much money a regionalized force would cost and if it would even save the city money.

“We (city, county, state) are still negotiating what a plan will end up being. At this moment, we cannot go into specifics but the mayor has said all along that she report out to the community once a plan is finalized,” city spokesman Robert Corrales wrote in an e-mail Wednesday.

Camden FOP president John Williamson continues to claim that the regionalized police plan is simply a union-busting ploy.

The FOP and Citizens' Community Committee’s public safety meeting to discuss the regionalization plan will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday at First Nazarene Baptist Church, 1500 South 8th Street, Camden.

Spokeswoman for the two groups, Nancy Webster, said there will be more meetings but dates and locations have not yet been set.