Policing in Camden
Published July 12, 2020
In early June, I went to Camden, along with reporter Kevin Armstrong for the New York Times to talk to people living in Camden, NJ, about their thoughts on the Camden police.
We also spent an afternoon with the police department to hear their thoughts on how things have changed. We drove around with Lt. Gabriel Rodriguez who was born and raised in Camden. He shared how when he first became a police officers how officers were celebrated for the number of arrests and tickets they gave out. He acknowledged the toxic culture and said many officers called him a traitor for joining the new department.
'The disbanding of its old force seven years ago was prompted not by a desire to rethink policing, but by dire finances, a public safety crisis and a political power play meant to break the police officers’ union. It took the drastic steps of firing all of the officers to allow the city to start fresh and overcome resistance.' (from the article)
The reaction to the changes in the police department were mixed. Some folks noticed the changes but a lot believe the department could do better. “They don’t know how to approach African-Americans or Hispanics because they don’t come from that culture,” said the Rev. Levi Combs III, 34, the pastor at First Refuge Progressive Baptist Church. Take a read in the link in my bio. There's so many layers to the idea of defunding or abolishing the police, and this article is one part of the conversation.