Camden deserves full police force
Given the current economic climate, everything comes down to money these days. It is a total shame that Camden's police force and fire department are not immune to the state's financial woes, as evidenced by the fact that 168 police officers and 67 firefighters have been laid off. To put these figures in perspective, that's close to half of the city's police force and a third of the city's fire department. Camden, like much of America, may be struggling with its budget, but this is one area they should not have cut.
Camden has the second-highest crime rate in the United States. As such, keeping a strong police force in Camden should be a top priority — if not the No. 1 priority. Likewise, a well-equipped and well-staffed fire department is indispensable in any city. That Camden's government had to take such drastic measures is incredibly disheartening.
Granted, the Camden government was wrestling with a $26.5 million budget gap. In such a situation, drastic cuts are absolutely necessary. However, there had to be a better way to do it than axing almost half the police force. We may not be privy to all of the intricacies of Camden's budgetary concerns, but we are aware of Camden's pressing crime problems. The safety of Camden's residents — of any city's residents, really — should always trump money-saving measures, no matter how dire the situation.
Robert Corrales, a spokesman for Camden Mayor Dana Redd, made the claim, "We're still going to protect our residents. We'll shift our resources to be more efficient with what we have." We sincerely question these claims. Just how will the Camden government protect citizens without a large chunk of its police force and fire department? Even if they find a way to be more efficient with that they have, just how efficient can they be? The whole situation does not bode well for Camden, and that is arguably an understatement.
David Brown, a business owner in Camden, put it best: "I don't want to be a pessimist, but I can't be optimistic." In the city with the second-highest crime rate in the nation, how can one be optimistic after suffering such blows? Camden's government needs to figure out a way to reverse the loss of all of these invaluable men and women, and they need to do it soon. It is not fair to ask residents to continue feeling safe under the city's current conditions. Even if crime did not already plague Camden, its citizens should not have to bear the heavy burden placed upon their backs.