Camden provides example of how dissolving a police force can improve policing

Camden dissolved its police force in 2013. Its success provides examples of police reform that works.

News 12 Staff

Jun 8, 2020, 9:44 PM

Updated 1,507 days ago

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Millions of Americans have been protesting across the country for nearly two weeks to demand changes in policing after George Floyd, a black man, died after an encounter with a white police officer in Minnesota.
Some Minneapolis officials are calling for a disbanding of the Minneapolis Police Department in the wake of Floyd’s death.
"We have had citizen review boards, body cameras and a black chief but we are still here watching black people get murdered and tear-gassed in our streets,” said Miski Noor, of the Black Visions Collective Rally.
Minneapolis Council President Lisa Bender says that she has nine members of the City Council who are pushing for disbandment. She says that the idea is to have organizations other than police respond to issues with youth, mental health or drug overdoses.
“One thing people are asking is to stop investing so much money in this militarized police force,” Bender says. “And instead invest in the things our community really needs."
Bender says that Minneapolis can look to cities like Camden, which has restructured its police department.
Camden dissolved its police department in 2013 after the city suffered 67 homicides in one year. There was pushback from the police union and calls that the city would not be as safe, but it seemed to work.
The Camden force cut police jobs and merged with the county, a move that put more police on the streets at a time when the city couldn't afford to hire more.
Photos: Protests Across New Jersey
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Officers underwent de-escalation training, and there were more community policing and use-of-force regulations. Officers were also told to intervene if they saw improper use of force and the city could fire any police officer who broke the regulations.
Camden officials say that reports of excessive force dropped by 95% after the changes were made. Minneapolis officials say that they hope that their city can also see this type of improvement.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey says that he is not on board with the plan but since nine members of the council are in agreement, they have the authority to make the change.


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