Camden County Struggles To Keep Officers; “It’s Not For Everyone”


The Camden County, N.J., Police Department, even as it has received praise for reducing violent crime Camden, has struggled to retain officers since it was formed two years ago, says the Philadelphia Inquirer. Nearly 120 officers, including large swaths of recruiting classes, have resigned or retired, making the department’s turnover one of the highest in the state. The attrition threatens to be an obstacle for the county-run force in its quest to build a strong relationship between officers and residents. President Obama is expected to discuss that relationship Monday when he visits Camden. Police officials elsewherey say that high turnover can make a department prone to mistakes, and that it limits the ability of officers to connect with residents.

County officials blame the turnover on some officers’ struggling to adjust from the police academy to Camden’s streets, ranked among the nation’s most violent. Current and former officers cite other reasons, including having to work long hours and being disciplined for minor infractions such as wearing the wrong jacket or forgetting to salute a supervisor on the street. They say the resignations are hurting morale. “It’s something you’re not supposed to talk about,” said one veteran officer. Bill Wiley, who heads the police union, tied the turnover to new hires’ choosing different career paths, or wanting to be closer to their hometowns. Some are from more than 50 miles away. “Going from the academy to working for the Camden police department is like going from college to the NFL,” he said. “It’s a very fast-paced environment. It’s not for everyone. Some find out late how hard it is.”

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