The Camden County freeholders on Thursday approved a $66,800 raise for Metro Police Chief Scott Thomson, bringing his annual salary to $230,000.

Thomson's new contract guarantees that he will stay in Camden until at least 2019, county spokesman Dan Keashen said Friday.

"This is about retaining one of the sharpest law enforcement minds in the country," Keashen said.

No county funds are used for the operation of the Camden County Police Department, which is paid for by Camden City and the state.

Thomson, who was appointed chief of the Camden Police Department in 2008, has gained national recognition from law enforcement agencies and the White House for community policing efforts since Camden's police department was disbanded and the county police force was created in 2013.

Camden's last appointed chief, Arturo Venegas, made $170,000 in 2006. He resigned in 2008 and was succeeded by Edward Hargis, who was interim chief for less than a year until Thomson's appointment.

Thomson becomes one of several police chiefs in New Jersey who earn more than $200,000. The chief in Bayonne, Hudson County, for example, earns $238,000 overseeing a force less than half the size of Camden County's, which has 404 members.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey draws an annual salary of about $260,000. In 2011, after Ramsey considered leaving for a job in his hometown of Chicago, Philadelphia granted him a $60,000 raise, making him the city's highest-paid employee at that time.

Louis Cappelli Jr., director of the Board of Freeholders, said Friday that he was certain Thomson had been offered jobs in other parts of the country, and that the raise would ensure that he stays in Camden.

"We recognize the fact that we have a very precious commodity in Chief Thomson," he said.

asteele@phillynews.com

856-779-3876 @AESteele