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Violent crime has dropped in Camden, but homicides are up slightly

"Ultimately, what you see is a lot of progress," a police spokesperson said.

New police officers were sworn in to the Camden County Police Department in December 2019.
New police officers were sworn in to the Camden County Police Department in December 2019.Read moreAvi Steinhardt (custom credit)

Camden had 25 homicides last year, an increase from 22 the year before but an improvement compared with the record of 67 in 2012.

Overall, violent crime in the city dropped 3%, with 1,161 incidents in 2019 compared with 1,197 in 2018. Compared with 2012, violent crime was down 42% last year, according to data provided Friday by the Camden County Police Department.

Factors contributing to violent crime in the city continue to include drug activity and domestic disputes, Dan Keashen, spokesperson for the Police Department, said Friday.

“But ultimately, what you see is a lot of progress,” he said.

Total violent crimes (homicides, rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults) and nonviolent crimes (burglaries, thefts, and arsons) “represent a historic drop” going back decades, Camden County authorities said in a news release Thursday. Last year, the city logged 3,305 such crimes, compared with 10,724 in 1974, the first year on record for Uniform Crime Reporting data, representing a 69% drop. Such crimes reached a high of 14,685 in 1991.

Camden’s county-run police force was launched in May 2013, replacing the nearly 184-year-old city police department. Longtime Police Chief Scott Thomson, who oversaw the transition of the department from city to county control, retired last year and was replaced by his assistant, Joseph Wysocki.

“This agency continues to provide the guardianship our community needs to feel safe when they go to the park or the corner store,” Wysocki said in Thursday’s news release, crediting school and civic leaders and “officers working the beat” for making the city safer.

Camden County Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli Jr. said in the release, “When we started this endeavor, Camden had significant challenges. Now, we have decreased murders to a level that has not been seen since the mid-’80s and reduced total crime to levels we haven’t seen since the 1960s.”

Camden Mayor Frank Moran said in the release that as “a lifelong resident, there is a noticeable change as the quality of life has continued to improve citywide. Whether it’s reductions in crime, increased economic growth, or improved educational outcomes, Camden is realizing sustained progress.”