Camden has reached another tragic milestone. On Monday the victim of an October shooting was taken off life support. Early Tuesday morning, he died from his injuries. His death marked the 60th one in Camden this year. Also on Monday, community activists held a vigil for the 59th victim, whose death broke a homicide record for the city. Most of the homicide victims are young and most of the homicides are drug-related.
“The murder rate in Camden City currently exceeds the murder rate in many third world nations,” said Lou Cappelli Jr., a Camden County Freeholder.
Cappelli Jr. is the director of Camden County’s governing body and one of the architects of a plan to create a county-run police force putting 130 more officers on the streets of Camden. It’s a plan that has drawn fire from County taxpayers.
“If I live in Cherry Hill or Haddonfield or another part of Camden County, why do I care about the crime in Camden?” asked NBC10’s Chris Cato.
“Two reasons,” said Cappelli Jr. “All crime is regional. The main problems with crime in Camden City are the drug sets and the gangs that sell drugs. The customers for those drug sets come from the suburbs. Over 80% of the people buying drugs in Camden City come from the suburbs. They don’t come from the city.”
The Regional Metro Police Force will be put in place in April, placing about 400 officers on the streets of Camden. The city of Camden will continue to pay the $65 million annual tab for that. However, it will also take six to seven million dollars of state money to get that police force up and running.
"Is that fair for the taxpayers of New Jersey to fund Camden's crime war?" asked NBC10's Chris Cato.
"Well it is," said Cappelli Jr. "First of all, it's been funding Camden's public safety for decades at this point. What this new police department will do is bring the spending under control. Instead of public safety expenses increasing by $20 million a year, we're going to have pretty much a cap on public safety expenditures."