In 2012, the City of Camden Police Department was facing countless dollars in deficit spending. There were likewise severe concerns about the department's struggling relationship with the residents.Lawmakers pushed to disband the city's authorities department and changed it with the Camden County Police Department, which was not bound to authorities union guidelines and restrictions.Since the improvement, criminal offense in Camden is down substantially.
Complaints against cops are down by 95 %and locals now paint a various image of how they see their cops and living in Camden.J. Scott Thomson, the previous police chief of both the Camden Police Department and Camden County Police Department, was interviewed on Thursday's edition of ABC's “Good Morning America. “Thomson, who retired in 2015, talked with GMA anchor George Stephanopoulos about the modifications the cops department has undergone in the past years: George Stephanopoulos: We want to discuss your experience in Camden. Back in 2013, you actually dissolved and changed your police force as your city was facing a public security crisis: a high murder rate coupled with scores of problems about excessive force. What did you gain from it? What did you do?J. Scott Thomson: So, 2012 was perhaps the darkest hour in the city's history, especially in regards to public safety. We had incredibly high levelsof mistrust, virtually no authenticity with the community.A bold political decision was made to dissolve the police and try something new.So we created a new policing paradigm. We understood we had the uncommon chance to construct culture as opposed to the
obstacle of changing culture. So we truly produced this company on 3 bedrock concepts:
our officers were going to be guardians and not warriors, we were going to take part in remarkable levels of community empowerment, and we would accept de-escalation as a part of our culture and not just as a training exercise. Stephanopoulos: Define that term neighborhood empowerment. We hear that a lot and hear neighborhood policing a lot. That can imply a lot of different things to many different people.Thomson: There are 18,000 authorities departments in the country and probably 18,000 various meanings for community policing. Neighborhood policing can not be an unit. It can't be a group of officers that are going and doing nice things in the area.
It can't just end there. It's got to be an organizational philosophy welcomed from the top on down.In Camden, we did the remarkable relocation-we eliminated our patrol department and our entire authorities department runs as neighborhood officers.The officers ‘task is to get to the origin problems of the issues. Don't want to jail, provide summons or use force to attempt to make things right. We want to work with the community. We want to be coalescers, conveners. Dealing with them, imposing the law with them and not just on them, so that we can make their quality of life better.What we have actually found is we've minimized murders by nearly 80 %. We went from having 175 outdoors drug markets to less than 20. We have excessive force complaints dropped 95%. The very best aspect of all this was that the revolution of the city has been more of the empowerment of individuals reclaiming their city, more so than the police militarizing it and imposing the law. Stephanopoulos: Dig beneath the slogan'defund the authorities. ‘How can you reproduce it in other cities and counties across the country?Thomson: I believe you need to be cautious with the defunding. To start with, I'm not sure which definition we're choosing. I heard it go from whatever from eliminating the police, which I do not think that is really a choice to repurposing cash
to get to issues.Now, I don't believe there is a progressive cops chief in the country that wouldn't trade 10 officers for another Boys and Girls Club. Whenyou lookat the more challenged police departments and peel the layers of the onion back, what you discover is there's been a defunding of that organization throughout the years in all the wrong places.There are lots of organizations that the only time the officers receive usage of force training or de-escalation training is in their preliminary on-boarding in the academy. Then they go 20, 30 years and never ever receive another refresher course. Copyright © 2020 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.