Camden County, N.J., is dunning dozens of towns statewide to recover its costs of training for the county police force officers who then left after a short time to join other jurisdictions, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. Since the creation in 2013 of the Camden County Police Department, which patrols only the city of Camden, more than 100 officers have resigned. At least 50 have taken jobs with other departments. State law mandates that if an officer is trained in a municipality, and quits in less than two years and then joins another police force within 120 days, the new municipality owes all or some of the cost of training the officer.
Most of the 30 municipalities the county has gone after have agreed to reimburse it. The county has sued a few. While it’s common for towns in New Jersey to recoup police training costs, the scale of the effort in Camden, where the county-run police force records some of the highest turnover in the state, is unusual. “That amount of people, that’s massive,” said Bob Fox, president of the New Jersey State Fraternal Order of Police. Depending on previous training, it costs between $5,000 and $23,500 to train, test, and compensate a recruit. The county is seeking to recover a total of nearly $166,000. Yesterday, an appellate court upheld a lower court decision last year that the creation of the force was legal. Faced with constant attrition, the county department fields 350 officers, below its goal of 426.