Camden Police Layoffs Met With Mixed Criticism - NBC 10 Philadelphia

Camden Police Layoffs Met With Mixed Criticism

Camden Reacts to Recent Layoffs

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    A day after layoffs put firefighters, city workers and police out of work in Camden, N.J. there were mixed reactions depending on who you talked to.

    Not everyone in Camden is unhappy about the recent layoff of more than 300 city employees, including 168 police officers, according to the Daily News.

    The paper talked to one unnamed dealer who went as far to say, “F--- ‘em! We’re happy. Lay ‘em all off. They can stop bothering us now.”

    The layoffs went into effect Tuesday with many officers walking out of the Fraternal Order of Police Hall for the last time.

    “This is the worst day of my career,” said FOP President John Williamson.

    The layoffs were part of a plan to close the $26-million budget deficit.

    Camden Police Chief Scott Thomson and Mayor Dana Redd held a news conference on Tuesday discussing the layoffs and how they plan to keep the town safe with only half the protection.

    With less officers Thomson plans to focus the police efforts on drugs and violence (no matter what the one drug dealer might have said). 

    Police wouldn't respond to incidents like vandalism, car accidents without injuries and damage to property.

    “We will not be pulling officers out of drug areas and violent areas to take reports,” Thomson told the Daily News.

    Mayor Redd remains hopeful and estimates 100 police jobs and possibly all of the firefighters could be brought back if the union reaches a compromise.

    On Wednesday the F.O.P. met and took a vote on an 18-month furlough program and other cost saving measures -- ultimately turning it down. Redd says she will continue to try and reach an agreement.

    "My administration will continue to work towards a solution and I will be willing to meet with the unions at any time and any hour because the residents of Camden deserve it."

    Redd believes the Union leaders should have done more to compromise but members of the union disagree.

    "We proposed for us to take two further days a month for six months," said the F.O.P. "We also offered a wage freeze."

    One thing everyone agrees on is the risk these cuts impose on the residents of Camden.

    Camden resident and mother of two, Esica Cruz, says, "It's not safe at all, especially for the kids."

    Despite their worries, Chief Thomson believes in the abilities of the remaining officers.

    "We will continue to protect the residents of Camden with a community policing strategy leveraged by state-of-the-art technology and strong commitments from our law enforcement partners. 92 percent of our sworn personnel are assigned to the streets securing our neighborhood and patrolling our business districts."