Friday, May 22, 2015

The gift that keeps on giving for the Camden County Police Department

The defunct Camden City Police Department is the gift that keeps on giving - at least to the new Camden County force that replaced it. The new department received a $135,00 toy, the Sky Patrol, which debuted Saturday.

The gift that keeps on giving for the Camden County Police Department

Camden County Police Department

The defunct Camden City Police Department is the gift that keeps on giving — at least to the new Camden County force that replaced it.

The Camden County Police Department’s Metro Division debuted its latest fancy toy Saturday. The $135,000 Sky Patrol, described as a mobile observation tower that can be elevated to various levels, was purchased by the former Camden City police with forfeiture funds sometime before its demise but never used.

The Camden County Board of Freeholders approved a resolution at its Jan. 26 meeting establishing the new county police department. The city subsequently laid off its entire police force, though several of the city officers were hired on to the new force.

As I reported last month, just as Camden prepared to transition to the new force, city officials began to dip into a stash of grant money (and now apparent forfeiture funds), the police department had accumulated.

More than half of $12 million in federal and state grants that poured in during a four-year period lay unused. In the first four months of this year, the city finally put $500,000 in leftover federal Justice Assistance Grant money toward buying new cars and equipment, which the county force inherited.

Now, add the Sky Patrol.

Decorated with the “CCPD” logo, the Sky Patrol will be tied into the city’s Eye-in-the-Sky surveillance camera network.

The mobile center also has a bullhorn and speaker system, a police spokesman says.

On its website, the Sky Patrol’s maker, FLIR Systems, says, “Every portable tower includes the basics for the comfort and safety of the officer inside through adjustable heat and air conditioning, tinted sliding glass windows and comfortable seating.”

About this blog

Allison Steele writes about Camden’s schools, government and businesses. Most importantly, she writes about the city’s residents. She is a former crime reporter who covered the Camden and Philadelphia police departments for the Inquirer. A Philly native, she has been with the Inquirer since 2008.

Send comments, tips and story ideas to asteele@philly.com, call 856-779-3876, or reach out on Twitter @AESteele.

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