The day after state troopers began to reinforce Camden's beleaguered police force, City Council President Frank Moran backed off on his call for Mayor Dana L. Redd to declare a state of emergency and instead called on her to develop new plans for public safety.
Moran introduced the resolution Tuesday at a Council meeting packed with business owners and residents, including family members of some crime victims.
They implored him and other officials to do something about a spike in crime that has plagued the city in recent months. Some have tied the crisis to deep cuts in the ranks of police that the mayor made in January because of a budget crisis.
Some also tied the spurt to a paucity of jobs and demanded more employment opportunities in a city where nearly 40 percent of residents live below the poverty line, according to census data.
Moran appealed to the city's leaders to look beyond the current crisis.
"The voice of the people has been heard and the governor has responded," he said in an interview. But, he added, "that's a quick fix, that's a short-term solution. . . . We have to talk about long-term solutions, and the people have been crying today about some sort of long-term solution."
Last week, after Miguel Almonte, a grocer popular in the community, became the city's 48th homicide victim this year, Moran told angry residents he would introduce a resolution asking the mayor to declare a state of emergency to press Gov. Christie to send in more state police or the National Guard.
The homicide total this year in the city of 77,000 is 11 higher than at this time last year. Sixteen of the homicides have occurred since October - a 60 percent jump over the same time last year. Other crimes, violent and nonviolent, also have recorded sharp increases.
On Monday, Christie said he was sending additional troopers to Camden to buttress a small contingent that has been helping with investigations.
It is too early to say what effect the added police will have, but Monday night was relatively quiet, with no shootings, said a spokesman for the Camden County Prosecutor's Office.
"I'm tired of going to funerals," Maryann Carrasquillo, whose son Luis Garcia, 25, was killed in 2009, said at Tuesday's Council meeting.
"Why are people still dying?" LaTonya Williams said in an interview. She carried a picture of her daughter Anjanea, who was Camden's first homicide victim after the Jan. 20 police layoffs.
But she was skeptical that the state police would bring a lasting improvement in public safety.
"You're putting a bandage on the situation. You're not healing the wound," she said.
State officials have declined to say how long the additional troopers, who as of Monday evening joined about a dozen already working in the city, would stay. The troopers are expected to concentrate on crime hot spots.
While welcoming the help, some Camden residents have said they would prefer to deal with local police, who they believe would be more familiar with them, and on Tuesday at least one resident reported having an uncomfortable encounter with troopers Monday night.
Joshua Lopez, a manager at a Camden tire store, said he and a friend were returning from a Cherry Hill theater when two troopers pulled them over around 11 p.m. near Lopez's home in North Camden.
Lopez, 26, said he was the passenger. One of the troopers ordered him out, told him to put his hands atop the vehicle, searched him, then let him go without telling him why he was stopped, he said.
"I think it's great that [they] are here, [but] that's not the way to do things," said Lopez, a 2010 graduate of Rutgers-Camden with degrees in accounting and business. "I felt like the cop was being excessive. As a citizen, I shouldn't be treated like that."
A state police spokesman did not immediately have information about Lopez's stop.
Facing a $26 million budget deficit, Redd laid off 168 officers - nearly half of the department - in January. She has since rehired more than 100, though up to 50 have left or plan to leave soon, union officials have said.
The force now has about 260 officers on its rolls, though its effective strength is about 215, union officials say.