“Ambassadors” to Bolster Camden Police Force

The new Camden County Police Department is looking to strengthen its presence in the city of Camden's business districts by hiring “public safety ambassadors.”

County freeholders approved a contract Thursday with the security firm AlliedBarton to provide the private force.

Police Chief Scott Thomson says the ambassadors would help with community policing but be unarmed and have no arrest powers. They would wear fluorescent vests to be easily identifiable.

“They’d provide a highly visible security presence,” said Thomson told the Courier Post. “That will free up police officers to be in the city’s neighborhoods, doing community policing and more particularly hitting the hot spots.”

“It’s part of a larger law enforcement strategy that will allow the Metro Division to focus on policing the neighborhoods,” said county spokesman Dan Keashen.

He says a similar program in Philadelphia has proven successful.

County officials say up to 100 ambassadors would be hired but won't hit the streets until the state provides needed funding.

They would handle routine police chores like verifying alarms.

Camden's old police force was officially retired in March and was replaced with a new county-run force designed to get more officers on the street at about the same cost.

The City Council approved paying the state $70.3 million to run the new department through June 2014.

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