“We are declaring peace in the city,” Camden City Mayor Dana Redd told a roomful of reporters, supporters and at least one heckler Wednesday, at a press conference announcing the next phase of the plan to replace the city’s police department with a countywide police force.
Redd described Camden as an up-and-coming, “regional leader of the ‘eds and meds,’” but warned that without improved public safety in the city, “these efforts will be in vain.”
“This is not a political decision,” Redd said.
“Yeah, it is!” a voice from the back of the room instantly barked back.
Leveling her gaze without raising her voice, Redd continued from her prepared remarks, which accused unnamed opponents of the plan of intentionally spreading misinformation about it.
“At the end of the day you will be held accountable,” she said.
“So will you!” came the final rejoinder.
In the hour-long meeting, Redd introduced the architects of the new policing strategies for the countywide metro division.
Among them were and Lanuel Ferguson, who served as Camden City police director briefly in 2011, and former state police captain Edward Fanelle, who will be the new county public safety director.
When asked why he would want to come back to Camden after his rough and short-lived 2011 stint, Ferguson offered a KYW reporter a spiritual reply:
“Delayed doesn’t mean denied.”
North Camden Little League organizer Bryan Morton .
“I don’t want to admit fear,” he said. “I don’t want to be fearful in this.”
Morton said he is waiting for the day his mother, who is not shy about clearing her block of loiterers and drug-pushers, pays the ultimate price for it.
“[Policing Camden] is not a job for my mother,” he said.
Camden County Freeholder and Collingswood resident Louis Cappelli, Jr. said that under the countywide system, Camden would be “achieving a different public safety paradigm.”
“We will keep this ball rolling until this city is safe,” he said. “We will be at this until it’s done.”
After the meeting, Cappelli touted the efficiencies of the new county metro division, and said it would lead to the hiring of about 140 additional officers to serve Camden.
The countywide policing plan—which Collingswood Mayor James Maley said —was well-received by area mayors at a closed-door meeting last week, Cappelli said.
The only police chief who attended that meeting was Collingswood Police Chief Richard Sarlo, Cappelli said, but the others “are welcome back at the table.”
“All they have to do is call,” Cappelli said.