Police chief group backs off of regionalization

Frustrated that the formation of a county police force already seemed to be in works, the Camden County Police Chiefs Association has withdrawn from a committee established to explore the possibility of a county police department.

The association, which has only one representative on the committee, doesn’t feel that its voice is being considered, president Berlin Chief Robert L. Carrara said.

“The decision was already made to move forward with this county police department,” Carrara said in a phone interview Thursday. “It’s designed someplace. They didn’t take any insight from the committee as a whole … in exploring the concept.”

In a letter to Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli Jr., Carrara wrote: “We do not endorse your efforts to take policing away from the local level which has worked well for all these years.”

For several months, county and local officials have been exploring the concept of a regionalized police force, in part, as a way to cut costs. Some police chiefs have said the framework has to be closely studied.

The county chiefs association’s decision comes a week after county officials released a “white paper” on what aspects of the force could look like.

Carrara said the committee, made up of mayors and other officials, had only met a handful of times for a few hours at that point.

“Two to three” towns that are in “financial distress” are in close talks with the county, Cappelli said then. He did not elaborate.