To the Editor:
Over the past 14 months there have been a lot of rumors and innuendo surrounding the creation and operation of the Camden County Police Department. I have heard all of the conspiracy theories and today I wanted to take the opportunity to provide you with the facts.
Right now, the County has a goal of having the Metro Division of the County Police Department operational by 2013.
The move would put more than 400 police officers on the streets of Camden instead of the 268 officers in the city’s existing force. Furthermore, the commissioning of a Metro Division will be done in a way that’s cost-effective and sustainable yet provides a comparable salary for officers to their colleagues in other towns throughout the state. I cannot say this enough: Camden City’s crime turns into Camden County’s crime. Let’s get rid of the myths and talk about the facts.
Myth 1: Municipalities in Camden County will be paying for Camden City’s Metro Division of the Camden County Police Force.
Fact: Camden City will pay for its own Metro Division. No other municipalities will support it or contribute to it. If Camden City is having its police budget subsidized by the state then that subsidy would continue to be paid to the county until the city is fiscally self-sufficient. The process and the payment would be the same for any municipality that decided to join the county police department. Each one must pay its own way.
Myth 2: All the other municipalities in Camden County will be forced to join the Camden County Police Department.
Fact: All shared services offered by the County to the 37 towns are voluntary. We do not have the authority to mandate municipalities to join a regional police department. Mayors and municipalities are free to do what is best for them and their constituents.
Myth 3: If other municipalities do choose to join the County Police Department, their officers will be forced to patrol the City of Camden.
Fact: Each municipality that chooses to join the Camden County Police Department would have its own force, patrolling its own region of the county.
I hope this letter has helped make clear the basic facts about the Camden County Police Department. We will continue to update you regularly on this issue through our website, email alerts, videos and print pieces like this one. You can read the county police force plan and other information on the initiative on the county’s website, www.camdencounty.com. You can also register for email updates on its progress.
Louis Cappelli Jr.
Director of the Camden County Board of Freeholders