The recent unrest over the death of George Floyd is turning into a debate over how to change policing in America. The radical hotheads are more interested in blowing up policing as we know it than reforming the system in ways that concretely benefit poor communities of color. But those looking for a nuanced, sensible model should look no further than Camden, NJ.
In 2013, state and local officials dissolved the old Camden Police Department and reconstituted it as the Camden County Metro Police. They did so for both programmatic and fiscal reasons.
Camden is one of the poorest in cities in America, and the Great Recession exacerbated its chronic economic woes; the city was able to provide basic municipal services only thanks to massive state aid. At the same time, crime was rising, and the department had been hit hard by scandals involving corruption and abuse.
Moved by the need for reform but also unhappy about throwing good money after bad, then-Gov. Chris Christie along with local officials embarked on a complete overhaul of policing services.
They created a new public-safety department within the Camden County government, dedicated to policing Camden city. The old department was disbanded.
Stephen Eide is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and contributing editor of City Journal.
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