Crime in what the Philadelphia Inquirer calls America’s Most Dangerous City has continued to escalate despite nearly a decade of state oversight of its police department. A new report on the Camden Police Department says crime in the first half of this year rose 11.5 percent over the first half of 2005, with the sharpest jumps in rape and burglary. The report, due today from a state task force, calls for changes to energize the downtrodden department and aims to help Camden shake its two-year grip on a national research firm’s “most dangerous city” title. Crime soared even with police under the guidance of the attorney general’s task force that issued the report.
The report, which took nearly two years and cost $380,000, outlines a strategy for overhauling the police force and rescuing what it calls a “city in crisis.” Many of its mandates seem obvious – holding top officers accountable, working with residents, setting goals for detectives. The report provides no money. “They’re words, by and large,” said a skeptical John Timoney, a former Philadelphia police commissioner and now chief in Miami. A new police chief is not in the cards. The first item on the report’s agenda is an overhaul of the city’s senior police ranks. The report orders the creation of a new top police job – the civilian post of police director. The report was written by Robert Wasserman, a consultant.