Nov 21 2012
With the economy still struggling to get back on its feet, public sector unions around the country are being scapegoated as the source of State and Local financial problems. While issues with teachers’ unions are often featured in the mainstream media, other public sector employees are also being targeted as in the case of the Camden, New Jersey Police Force.
Camden, New Jersey, according to the latest US Census data, is now the poorest city in the United States. The unemployment rate stands at 19% and over 40% of its residents live below the poverty line. The city just broke its own homicide record by recording the 59th person to be murdered in the city this year. With crime at an all time high and the city’s economy at an all time low, Camden government officials are using these grim statistics to dismantle the 141 year old police force of 273 officers and replace it with a non-unionized force of 400 officers run by the County.
City officials feel that the plan increases the numbers of police on the streets while simultaneously reducing costs. But, critics are pointing out that the plan was drafted in secret with very little information available to the public and that long time officers will be replaced with new recruits who have very little training.
New Jersey’s Republican Governor Chris Christie is wholly supportive of the plan and has stated, “I think this should be a wave of the future in places that are challenged like this, and so we’re certainly going to be full partners in it.” But John Jay College of Criminal Justice professor Eugene O’Donnell says, “This is not a policing strategy. This is something more sinister. Every cop in America should worry about what’s happening in Camden.”
GUEST: John Rudolf, national reporter for Huffington Post
Click here to read John Rudolf’s article about Camden.