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Crime in Camden Down, Community Policing Up

Crime in Camden, New Jersey hit an all-time high in 2012 – no mean feat for the notoriously dangerous Rust Belt fixture. In 2012 the city had an astonishing 67 murders, and a rash of other violent and property crimes. The government acted by disbanding the city police and instituting the Camden County Police Department Metro Division with the assistance of Governor Chris Christie.

Bail Bond Services in Camden, New Jersey - Chance BailBonds“In a city suffering from epidemic crime, we acted boldly,” said Christie during last month’s State of the State address. “The results? Murder [is] down 51 percent. Firearm assaults [are] down by one-third [and] all violent crime is down 22 percent.”

Not everyone in Camden shares the Governor’s braggadocio, however.

Critics argue that improvements in Camden’s crime rate have been modest, especially after the record highs of 2012 and the years leading up to it.

Christie’s critics also point to severe funding cuts made in the first two years of his term – over $12 million with 160 officers laid off. Critics suggest that it’s unfair for Christie to take the credit for a drop that was only possible because of a spike his budget cuts caused.

But with the new Metro Division police department came the opportunity to reform tactics, notably the increased use of so-called community policing spearheaded by top cop Scott Thompson.

Community policing emphasizes close ties and teamwork between communities and police, as opposed to more aggressive approaches like New York’s infamous “broken windows” policy. That means, for example, more cops on walking beats talking to residents instead of isolating themselves in patrol cars.

“We’re not polarizing communities,” Thompson said. “We fish with a spear and not with a net. Not everyone needs to feel the weight of law enforcement because of four or five individuals.”

Still, while the relationship between police and the Camden community at large may be at an all-time high, crime still has a way to go.

There were 33 murders in 2014, 10 fewer than the average since 2000, but still higher than normal for a city of Camden’s size – ditto the rape and robbery rate, 51 and 531 in 2014, respectively.

“Is what we’re doing really working?” asked Sgt. Durwin Pearson, driving through Camden’s Centerville neighborhood. “It’s not going to be perfect and I’m not going to say it’s going to become crime free, but it will definitely become a good community — like it used to be.”

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The Most Dangerous Cities in New Jersey

New Jersey has a strong reputation as a rough and tumble place. Pop culture has long portrayed it as plagued by urban blight and mafia strong arms, and high profile news stories over the years have done little to counter that reputation.

The Most Dangerous Cities in New Jersey - Newark Police

Image source: Flickr user scsmith4

Of course New Jersey is a diverse state and not all cities in the Garden State live up to the hype. The Townships of Chatham, Mahwah, and Sparta for instance rank as among the safest in the nation. But if you want to know which neighborhoods you should definitely avoid, keep reading.

Real estate company Movoto has published a heavily researched list of the most dangerous places in New Jersey, using 2013 FBI crime statistics for murders, violent crimes, property crimes, and total crimes. Ranks were determined by crime per person, weighted more heavily for violent offenses. Coming in the top spots are Asbury Park, Atlantic City, and Newark.

Better known for its beaches, boardwalk, and music scene, Asbury Park may seem like a surprising city to beat out places like Newark and Camden. Nevertheless, its high crime rate and relatively small population mean Asbury Park wins easily. With 842 property crimes, 263 violent crimes, and 6 murders in the population of less than 16,000, you might want to take a little extra care to stay safe next time you visit The Stone Pony.

The only grace saving Atlantic City from the top spot is a higher population – 685 violent crimes (but only 3 murders) and 3,160 property crimes for just under 40,000 people.  And that’s not even counting the people who get fleeced at the Trump Taj Mahal.

­Rounding out the top three is Newark, with only the 9th highest rate of total crimes per person but a particularly high rate of violent crime. With a total population of 278,246 Newark was home to 3,516 violent crimes including 112 murders in 2013.

If you end up on the wrong side of the law anywhere in New Jersey, call Chance BailBonds 24 hours a day for fast, courteous bail bonds service from a professional staff.