Camden Chief Thomson Getting PERF Innovative Policing Award


Camden, N.J,. Police Chief Scott Thomson’s uses of technology and increased street patrols in one of the nation’s most dangerous cities will be recognized Friday with the Gary Hayes Award for innovative policing from the Police Executive Research Forum, says the Philadelphia Inquirer. “No community has had to face what he’s had to face,” said PERF director Chuck Wexler. “He’s had to change the way he polices.”

Facing a $26.5 million budget deficit, Camden laid off 163 police officers in January. With almost half of his force gone in a single day, Thomson reduced administrative functions and put virtually every officer on the street. On April 1, the city was able to bring back 55 staff members through a federal grant and a $2.5 million payment from the South Jersey Port Corp. Violent crime in the nine-square-mile city has trended downward, despite an increase in gun violence. That momentum began in the fall and continued this year, even after the layoffs. Experts say that it takes a year or two to identify trends, but that small snapshots are noteworthy. The spike in shootings is a reason for concern. Eye in the Sky surveillance cameras will soon total 81 in the city. “Technology is not a luxury in Camden,” Wexler said, “it’s a necessity.”

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