New Jersey congressman who assisted revamp Camden police on what it takes to reform: “It’s about reinvesting” – CBS News

18June 2020

As calls grow nationwide to defund the authorities, there's one city that has already done so — Camden, New Jersey. In 2013, the Camden Police Department was disbanded and rebuilt into a county system. Existing Congressman and then-State Senator Donald Norcross signed up with CBSN to discuss how it worked and why Camden's example about reinvesting can be used for other cities.

The disbanding of Camden's authorities department came about in 2013 as a by-product of spending plan problems. The then-Governor, Mayor and state Senator Norcross dealt with the neighborhood and the police chief to create a new cops department run by the county of Camden. Its focus was on “how can we produce a system, an authorities department that is of the city,” Norcross stated. “It's not ‘us versus them,' ‘community versus authorities,' however one that shows what the city needs.”

When the authorities department was restarted in Camden, all the officers had to reapply for their tasks, which suggested the brand-new department was a mix of personnel. “That is important due to the fact that as the new cops hires can be found in, they were both veterans and brand-new, mixed together,” Norcross said. “They knocked on everybody's door and introduced themselves. And say, hi, I'm the policeman and how can we help you. Those are the seeds that were planted years ago that have created a new culture, a new community policing that has come together. Which is why you saw on TELEVISION, the chief signed up with Black Lives Matter along with myself and the mayor in the neighborhood in demonstration of that awful killing of George Floyd. “As a by-product of creating a totally new cops department, some significant changes were made to how policing was done including a restriction on chokeholds, focusing on de-escalation and mandating body video cameras. The bodycams, in particular, are something that Norcross stated are now seen as “truth-tellers.” “The culture for authorities back then, they did not want to use bodycams,” he said. “That is what we see today is, for several years, we have actually heard stories of awful accidents, terrible occurrences in between police and minority black and brown community. However it was word versus word and now they use bodycams. It is truth telling, this is what we are seeing. So now I speak to the police and they do not wish to lack them due to the fact that it is about the fact.”

To this day, Norcross stated the Camden community-focused method is one that's still working.

“The varieties of stakeholders coming together, the chief, on a weekly basis, now holds calls with the spiritual community of Camden city. Spending an hour to 3 hours each week with them, addressing their concerns. Especially in this time of unrest. It is really essential that we, together can make this a much better location,” he said.

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