CAMDEN, N.J. — The City of Camden has seen an historic drop in violent and nonviolent crime according to a recent Uniform Crime Report (UCR) released by the county.
The Camden County Police Department finished 2019 with what amounts to an aggregate reduction of three percent over 2019 for violent crime accounting for 1,161 incidents. In addition, this represents a 42 percent decrease compared to 2012 UCR numbers for violent crime.
The numbers also represent a historic drop in total UCR crime – both violent and nonviolent – going back to the late 1960s. Last year, the city logged 3,305 total crimes compared to 10,724, during the first year we have on record for UCR data, 1974, representing a 69 percent reduction.
Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli Jr. talked about the improvements to the quality of life in the city and the commitment to community policing that has spearheaded much of the changes in a press release from the county.
“This was another year of tangible progress by the men and women in the Camden County Police Department,” Cappelli said. “ It’s because of them that we have seen the transformation throughout the city and it’s been their commitment and dedication to the community that has bridged the divide that existed with residents,”
Cappelli recognized the initial challenges with crime that the city faced.
“When we started this endeavor, Camden had significant challenges,” Cappelli said. “ Now, we have decreased murders to a level that has not been seen since the mid-80s and reduced total crime to levels we haven’t seen since the 1960s.”
Throughout last year, several changes took place in the department from the promotion of a new chief to the adoption of a new use of force guideline that was nationally recognized. In addition, the department installed a new virtual training mechanism for de-escalation and continued a strategy grounded in the tenets of community policing, mutual respect and the preservation of life.
Mayor Frank Moran talked about the overall improvements to the city that the department has made for children and families.
“Public safety remains a priority here in Camden,” Moran said. “As elected officials, we have an obligation to make sure our community is safe. Through collaboration and thanks to the dedicated effort of the Camden County Police Department, Camden is safer than it has been in decades. As Mayor and a lifelong resident, there is a noticeable change as the quality of life has continued to improve citywide. Whether it’s reductions in crime, increased economic growth or improved educational outcomes, Camden is realizing sustained progress.”
Since the county police department was stood up more than six years ago, the city has experienced unprecedented private and public investment, more than $2.5 billion, from new corporate campuses, academic buildings and park construction. Furthermore, according to the U.S. Census Bureau the poverty rate has decreased by 14 percent since 2013, the job rate growth led the nation in 2017 and the high school dropout rate has been cut in half since 2013. Furthermore, Rutgers-Camden has ushered in its largest student body ever, unemployment is at a 30-year low and more than $53 million is being invested into the city’s infrastructure this fiscal year.
After 50 years of disinvestment and disenfranchisement, starting in 1967 with the closing of the New York Shipbuilding Corporation, Camden has been incrementally moving forward and becoming a beacon of hope and change for the region.
“This agency continues to provide the guardianship our community needs to feel safe when they go to the park or the corner store. This organization’s foundation is centered on engagement and dialogue with residents and we will be continuing that work in 2020,” Chief Joseph Wysocki said. “I want to thank our partners in the community, from the school district to civic leaders, who are working with us to make Camden a safer place. I also want to thank the officers working the beat who are the backbone of this agency.”
Cappelli also talked about the importance of partnerships with other law enforcement agencies in reducing crime in Camden.
“I would be remiss if I didn’t thank the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office, Camden County Sheriff’s Department, New Jersey State Police and all of our federal law enforcement partners for the roles they played last year,” Cappelli said. “We are looking forward to building on 2019 and working with them to maintain and continue the progress into the new year.”