But the Camden County Freeholders are moving forward like a speeding train towards a countywide police force, and it’s going to both crash and burn, or hobble to the finish line. The problem is that the train they are driving is going in a direction that has caused more acrimony than any issue in the recent past, even more so than the Rut-Row merger.
Camden City and Camden County residents, Camden County elected and appointed officials, Camden FOP, Camden County Chief of Police Association, Citizens’ Community Committee for Public Safety, and the NJ State PBA have all expressed concerns over the County plan for a Metro Police department. The reasons include, but are not limited to, legal issues associated with union busting, Camden City residents’ fear of losing familiar veteran officers, that costs will be spread to all County Municipalities, and the ability to sustain the plan when the State pulls aid.
The question is what is the best way to pull this off? It is unimaginable that county officials would ignore all the concerns being voiced but that is what they are doing. I keep asking myself why? It seems like political suicide… or do they know something that all others don’t see or understand. Are they rushing the process to create a flash point for November elections? Are they so arrogant and confident in their elected positions that they feel that they can do whatever they want with no political consequences?
The County has yet to pull off any large scale operational initiative, and to think or even allow then to play politics with public safety is disturbing at best.
The reality is that the County has already spent a considerable amount of time and money to work out their ghost plan, hire consultants, have employees get involved and hire new police leaders. Though they are saving some taxpayer money because Freeholders admit NO studies have been performed. So even though they say it will not cost County taxpayers anything, we are already paying the bills.
This all started out with a countywide PD idea which Governor Christie endorsed. Then all municipalities except Camden City said “no way.” The county then focused on Camden City and came up with the Metro Police idea. Then, based on a consultant’s recommendation, determined they needed 400 sworn officers. But now they say, in addition to needing 400 sworn officers, they also need 100 support staff. Can you imagine the joy of the Democrats when they realized they could create 100 patronage jobs?
By the way, Governor Christie has been mum on the Metro Police idea thus far.
Camden City does need help and all residents of Camden County should be brainstorming ways to help one of our own. We can’t turn our backs. The City, the residents and the employees of Camden deserve better. The bottom-line is that if the County had their fiscal house in order in the first place, then we would be in a position to provide the $10 million bill that would add 170 sworn officers but not the 100 patronage jobs. In fact, those 170 officers could just be rolled into the existing Sheriff’s department without creating another new bureaucratic organization. This would be a complementary force to the existing Camden City PD.
So the county police consolidation train is going to derail or it will hobble to the finish line but either way this will be another failed operational attempt by the County, which I believe will be the beginning of the end of Democrat control in Camden County.