New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey called yesterday for a ban on plea bargains for armed offenders in Camden and said no more state troopers would be sent to the city, which is nearing a record homicide rate, the Philadelphia Inquirer says. Harvey’s comments surprised and, in some cases, angered law enforcement officials from the Statehouse to officers on the street in Camden. “The reason we are looking at this narrow category of cases so carefully is because these violent felons who possess guns have either shot someone before or will shoot someone in the future,” Harvey said. “We’re not going to bargain, downgrade the offenses, simply to expedite the case.”
A spokeswoman for acting Gov. Richard J. Codey, called the ideas a “total surprise.” The confusion underscored growing tensions among law enforcement agencies scrambling to deal with crime in Camden, which took a public relations hit last month when a Kansas publisher ranked the city as the most dangerous in the nation. After Harvey spelled out his plans in an interview with in the Courier-Post, a spokesman for Camden County Prosecutor Vincent Sarubbi said the prosecutor had been working on his own proposals for months. Sarubbi plans to soon unveil a “zero-tolerance” policy for gun cases that also will target “quality of life” crimes, such as prostitution, said a spokesman.