As of Sunday, Camden, N.J., a city of about 75,000, reported 53 homicides, up from 42 in all of 2007, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Two men also were shot and killed by Camden police officers in the line of duty. The record number of killings in Camden is 58, set in 1995. This year’s tally is the highest since 2004, when 50 murders led a research company to declare Camden the deadliest city in America for the first of two consecutive years.
Homicides in Philadelphia have dropped – 329 as of Sunday, compared to 392 in 2007. Camden’s rate of violent crime is second in the nation this year, up from fifth in 2007, says CQ Press. Of cities over 75,000, only New Orleans has fared worse. Camden officials attribute the surge to a growing gang presence and an increase in small-time drug disputes. Most of Camden’s homicides appear to be targeted killings. Police say residents often are unwilling to come forward with information that could solve the cases. The homicide total has slowed considerably from the beginning of the year. In October, there were two killings, and last month only one. Police Inspector Michael Lynch says that flooding the street with officers has created a hostile environment for offenders.