A year after the state installed new police leadership in Camden, N.J., perennially one of the country’s most dangerous cities, the face of policing there has changed dramatically, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. Asked what the department was doing differently, Louis Vega, the civilian police director, replied, “Everything.” There are more officers on the street, more arrests being made, and more “mobilization drills,” where cops flood a crime “hot spot” determined by computer analyses.
The department sweeps in, attacks quality-of-life problems, and hopes the bad guys wonder what’s next. According to Gov. Corzine and state Attorney General Anne Milgram, who held a news conference in Camden last week to tout a reduction in homicides in the city and the state, the approach has been an unqualified success. But according to some officers, and particularly their union representatives, the strategy incorporates unfair labor practices, potential First Amendment violations, and a short-term strategy.