The new police chief in Camden, N.J. declared that his city has a homicide crisis and that he has a plan to curb the killings. Interim Police Chief Edwin Figueroa says that teams of law enforcement officers will target homicide hot spots as well as comb the streets to reduce guns, the Philadelpia Inquirer reports. Figueroa would flood key areas with teams of uniformed and plainclothes law enforcement officers.
“We have a crisis,” said Figueroa. “The number of homicides right now is at 25. Last year at this time they were at 19.” Figueroa was appointed interim chief after the suspension of Police Chief Robert E. Allenbach in March for failing to implement changes and improvements recommended in a state audit.
The audit said the department needed to reduce a huge backlog of Internal Affairs investigations, improve its dispatch center, and put more officers on the street by centralizing operations. The Police Department was taken over by the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office after Allenbach’s suspension.
Figueroa said three neighborhoods where homicides had taken place consistently for the last three years would be targeted. This year’s homicide total in the city of 79,000 is more than the number for all of 2001.