Camden Mayor Dana Redd announced today that she was moving forward with a county takeover of the city's police force following a recent spike in crime that has prompted questions about the city's ability to police itself.
The announcement followed months of silence on the subject of whether Camden would enter into a policing agreement with Camden County, which has been pushing the creation of a regionalized police force spanning the suburbs and the city since early this year.
The announcement was short on details, saying only that the two entities had exchanged financial information and "have made notable progress."
While there is no timeline on when the county freeholders and Redd would take the next step and enter into a formal agreement, Redd's public support of the plan was seen as a indication it could happen soon.
"This signifies progress and commitment," said Camden County spokeswoman Joyce Gabriel.
Camden is under particular pressure after seeing homicides climb by 30 percent this year over last, as well as burglaries climb by more than 40 percent.
The crime wave follows the layoff of more than 168 city police officers, nearly half the department's rank, earlier this year due to a $26 million budget shortfall - though more than 100 officers have since been hired back.
Earlier this week Camden City Council President Frank Moran had called on Redd to press the state to send in the National Guard or increase the ranks of state troopers assigned to the city.
When Attorney General Paula Dow visited Camden on Thursday, she made no commitments to such an action. Today, Gov. Christie lauded the announcement on the regionalized force, calling it "an innovative solution that increases public safety services while reducing taxpayers expenses."