Christie looks at regional police forces

BLACKWOOD – Gov. Chris Christie talked Wednesday about regional policing in a meeting with 35 Camden County mayors and other officials, both Republicans and Democrats.

He was joined by state Senate President Steve Sweeney, (D-3), of West Deptford, whom Christie said is of like mind on this issue.

“Taxpayers of the state need relief, they’re at a breaking point,” Sweeney said. “We need to seize the moment.”

He said the average property tax bill is $7,200.

Speaking at Camden County College, Blackwood campus, Christie said he is ready to help local officials help realize regional policing.

“We stand ready to help them in any way possible,” Christie said.

Camden County Freeholder director Louis Cappelli Jr. said “The time has come to make changes in the way we deliver public safety services.”

“We need to take a regional approach to a regional problem,” he said. “We need to get more police officers on the street. We need to start this whole process over.”

He said the county formed police and fire committees comprised of police and fire chiefs to study the issue and develop a plan.

In addition to Sweeney, Christie was joined by Attorney General Paula Dow.

Christie said other counties are at least discussing the idea of regional policing.

“The reality is we don’t have the money to continue delivering police services the way we are now.”

Dow agreed that a regional approach to policing makes sense.

Standing alongside Christie and Sweeney, Dow described regional policing as a measure “whose time has come.”

She said crime does not necessarily stay within the “silos of an individual municipality.”

Rather, she said there is “a cross-jurisdictional nature of crime” that spreads out into the different cities, suburbs and rural communities.

Other states like Maryland and Florida have taken similar county law enforcement steps and have encouraged various smart policing measures.

Christie looks at regional police forces