Camden, N.J., police chief Arturo Venegas arrived 11 months to a city of 79,000 awash in blood and despair, says the Philadelphia Inquirer. Venegas, 58, hasn’t rallied Camden’s 500-member police force, say union leaders. Crime under his watch is mostly undented, though the bedraggled city lost its America’s Most Dangerous title last year. Now, after the murders of four people in three days during the first week of summer, Venegas finds himself in the hot seat. Tonight, Camden City Council will consider creating a new post of police director, which Venegas wants. The new job would install him as civilian boss of the city police department with the powers of chief executive, no longer under the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office.
Venegas says most categories of violent crime have dropped -albeit by small amounts – and the recent spike in murders is an “anomaly.” He’s shifted five of eight police captains, formed alliances with community leaders, and has become president of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “Creating an economically viable community is part of the fight against crime,” he said, defending what he says is his “interim” Chamber of Commerce position. “This is the chief’s role,” he said. “We’re good at putting people in jail, but how do we become a good place to work play and invest,” he said.