Camden Churches win new police leadership

January 08, 2008

Less than two months after New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram stood before a packed crowd at Saint Joseph's Pro-Cathedral in East Camden and refused to commit to a clear timeline to hire a new police chief and civilian director, the tide has turned. On January 7, Milgram named a new chief of police for the city as well as replaced the state's civilian police director.

On November 13, Camden Churches Organized for People (CCOP) mobilized more than 800 faith-community members to meet with Milgram and the city's state-appointed chief operating officer. Church-community leaders lifted up the painful impact of violent crime on families and the lack of permanent police leadership in the city and presented proposals for new leadership and new policing strategies to improve public safety in Camden. While Milgram expressed her support for CCOP's proposals, she would not commit to a clear timeline for action.

In December, after six months of inaction, the Camden City Council passed an ordinance creating the position of a Civilian police director, responding to one of CCOP's primary recommendations. In January, Milgram appointed an interim police director until a national search is completed, and also a new police chief. Both have indicated their support for stronger police-community partnerships and local problem-solving community policing demonstration projects are underway.