Robert Stewart has taken over as police chief in Camden, N.J., running a police department with sagging morale in an impoverished and violent city, says the Philadelphia Inquirer. Stewart, 58, plans to stay in the $170,000 job for just a year. His appointment already has drawn protests from the police unions and some high-ranking officers. They favored replacing Chief Edwin Figueroa, who retired Tuesday, with someone from the ranks.
“What I hope to accomplish is just a strategic vision of how we get from Point A to Point B,” Stewart said. “Let’s lay it down, about what our goals are and what we need to do to accomplish them.” That means running the department’s vast reorganization plan, which was announced in the summer. Stewart has worked as a consultant for a company run by Robert Wasserman, architect of the plan. The reorganization calls for breaking the city into four zones, with a captain accountable for each. The plan also calls for officers to work “straight shifts” that keep them on the same beats during the same times of day so they can learn the crime patterns and develop tighter relationships with residents. That change could be problematic because the officers’ contract calls for rotating shifts. Stewart’s wife will remain in Florida as a captain in the Tallahassee Police Department. “I see a lot of my time being spent with the district commanders as we both go out and meet with the community,” Stewart said.