In a letter today to the Camden-touring President of the United States, the State Policemen’s Benevolent Association told Barack Obama that he has been misled to believe “PR spin” that the Camden County Metro Police Department is a success in battling violent crime that besets the waterfront south state city.
“This police department was created by union busting tactics with the full collusion of Governor Christie and local leaders who, when crime spiked after massive officer layoffs, blamed the remaining officers instead of themselves,” wrote State PBA President Pat Colligan.
The Camden County Metro Police arose in 2013 through an agreement between the State, County and City of Camden. In the years preceding the creation of the new Department, 168 police officers absorbed lay-offs, Colligan said. When the Camden FOP would not negotiate severe cuts in their current contract with the City for their remaining officers, local leaders went to the State for approval to disband the Department. The result was a deal to layoff every remaining Camden Police Officer, transfer policing of the City to the County and use of tens of millions in State funds to pay for the new force, he noted.
Obama today will tour the city with police, but“Camden County does not have a countywide police department,” the PBA President told the President. “These officers never leave Camden and no other town in Camden County has asked for the County to patrol their communities.”
Camden County has underreported or misreported its crime activity to deflate the true number of incidents in the City, the PBA President alleged. In addition, large numbers of the new officers hired to staff the Department have left the Force – nearly 20 in April 2015 alone – due to poor pay, working conditions and the lack of facts being told about what is really going on in Camden.
“You don’t need to be a criminology expert to know that more cops means less crime but, even with increased staffing from rookies with less experience than the officers the County laid off, the numbers in Camden don’t tell the whole story,” the letter said. “Camden County laid off experienced officers, many close to retirement, but chose to retain and give a $67,000 raise to its Chief whose failure of leadership led to the understaffing and crime spike to begin with.”
“I am urging you to look closely at what is really going on in Camden and to not allow yourself to be used to perpetuate a myth that is now being spread throughout New Jersey that the easiest way to cut crime is to lay off hard working police officers, dramatically cut their pay and benefits and manipulate crime stats,” Colligan’s letter to the President concluded.