CAMDEN, N.J. (WTXF) - The numbers are jaw-dropping, since 2012--the last year before Camden County took over policing the city--incidents of rape, robbery and aggravated assault are all down significantly.
Property crimes, including burglary, arson and cars theft have plummeted by 45%. Homicides are down by a whopping 67%. Camden was once known as the murder capital of our region.
Police Chief Scott Thomson says technology has helped. Monitored Eye in the Sky cameras at 5th and State make it make it tougher for the bad guys to operate. However, Chief Thomson says it's about more than gadgets.
"We believe we have successfully changed the culture here. We've gone from an identity of warriors to guardians,' Chief Thomson said. "It's getting police officers out of their squad cars, having them walk beats, having them ride bicycles part of their day and the expectation is that they talk to as many people as they can within that neighborhood."
Sister Helen Cole holds an annual New Year's Eve vigil for the families of Camden murder victims. She has lived and worked in North Camden for nearly 3 decades.
The plummeting murder rate has allowed Cole to spend less time counseling families and more time on toy drives like one for the upcoming Three Kings Day and on an afterschool program for neighborhood teens many of whom attend the brand new charter high school just around the corner.