In his Fox News Speciathe “One Nation” aired Sunday, Lawrence Jones took viewers to the Camden, New Jersey police department to explore how they changed police culture after crime is police corruption it became so intolerable that the city voted to dissolve the department.
Camden, statistically classified as one of the most dangerous cities in America during the decade of the 2000s, loose his police department in 2013 in favor of the new non-union Camden County Police Department. At the time, the city police union blew up the plan as a “form of union release”.
Seven years after the move, Camden – a city of around 74,000 on the outskirts of Philadelphia – lowered the crime rate by nearly half and law enforcement officers took a more “community-oriented” approach to protect and serve.
“The city of Camden had a fiscal crisis and a public security crisis,” said Jones Capelli, owner of Camden County, Louis Capelli Jr., adding that at that time the city routinely saw a “homicide rate higher than most part of third world countries. ”
“We have decided to dismantle the police department and form a new department to implement a new community police model.”
Capelli added: “It was crazy, and the union leadership didn’t think we could do it.”
But, to the surprise of their skeptics, the Camden City Police Department was disbanded and replaced by a county police force with a renewed mindset determined to integrate the police into the community, regain confidence and reduce situations before became violent, Jones explained.
“We have been really able to change the dynamic through community policing,” Camden police chief Joseph D. Wysocki told Jones during a tour.
“It is a culture for us to be part of it,” Wysocki explained, adding that it encourages its officers to “interact with people”, to talk openly and to participate in community games and sporting events.
Since 2013, the homicide rate has fallen by more than 70 percent. Burglary decreased by 67 percent, while burglary decreased by 60 percent.
The city actually ended up increasing the number of agents on the road, but Wysocki said the change was due to a change in culture and a community-oriented approach.
“They didn’t defeat the police,” Wysocki told Jones. “They invested in the police, invested in training.”
Tawanda Jones, a community activist known locally as “Wawa”, was not a huge fan of Wysocki during his early years back, but, he said to Jones, “I learned to really love this man.”
“There has been a lot of controversy about racial profiling, .. and I have young black guys, so I was always on a break, but I can honestly say that I grew up to really love this man.
“He did a lot of cleaning … making sure the kids are safe,” he continued, but acknowledged that while the city has come a long way, “we are still building that trust.”
Fox News’ Charles Creitz and Julia Musto contributed to this report.