Coming Together For Camden
From Education Reform And Economic Development To A Vastly Improved Police Force, The Christie Administration And It’s Local Partners Are Coming Together In A Historic Manner To Turn Camden Around
“I love this city and I believe that families in this city deserve better than what’s happening right now, so we’re going to work hard together to get there and do it together.”
– Governor Chris Christie, Camden, NJ, 9/10/13
THE POLICE FORCE CAMDEN DESERVES
Combating a public safety crisis, Governor Christie has taken aggressive action to bring about a sweeping reformation of police services in the City of Camden. With the support of the Christie Administration, the City and County of Camden implemented a ground-breaking reform by creating a county-wide force that is putting more cops on the streets of Camden, and more resources at their disposal.
· More Officers On The Streets: Under the reorganization, the number of police officers patrolling Camden’s streets has already increased from 160 to 376. With another class of cadets already in training,the force will increase to over 400 officers.
· Cutting Edge Crime-Fighting Technology: The new Camden County Police Force is utilizing state-of-the-art technology and techniques to combat the city’s crime epidemic. From its Real-Time Crime Center, the new force can monitor over 120 citywide cameras and 35 microphones which can instantly pinpoint the exact location of a gunshot.
· A Focus On Community Outreach: City and police officials are emphasizing outreach to community leaders and one-on-one interactions between officers and residents as a cornerstone to ingraining the new police force within the neighborhoods they patrol and making the people partners in the effort to curb violence.
Early Signs Of Progress:
2012 was the most violent year in the City of Camden’s history, and found it ranked as the most violent city in the nation. While there is more work to be done, there have already been signs of progress in curbing crime in the city. So far, 2014 has seen sharp reductions in crime compared with the same point in 2012:
o 50 Percent Reduction In Homicides
o 49 Percent Reduction In Rape
o 25 Percent Drop In Robberies
o 17 Percent Reduction In Aggravated Assaults
o 22 Percent Overall Drop In Violent Crime
o 31 Percent Reduction in Non-Violent Crime
· The New York Times: “Just as remarkably, with shootings down 43 percent in two years, and violent crime down 22 percent, Osvaldo Fernandez now lets his sons walk to school alone. Nancy Torres abandoned plans to move to Florida. And parents from Center City Philadelphia are bringing their children here — notoriously one of the nation’s poorest, most crime-ridden cities — to play in a Little League that has grown to 500 players from 150 in its first season three years ago.” (Kate Zernike, “Camden Turns Around With New Police Force,” The New York Times, 8/31/14)
o “‘It’s absolutely a different place,’ said Tim Gallagher, a social worker who works with students. ‘You feel safe walking the streets now. The police officers aren’t afraid to come out of their cars and interact with the community, and that’s changed how people feel about them.’”
o “Eulisis Delgado, who protested the new force for months before it began, now says residents should be grateful. ‘It’s almost like a normal town,’ he said. ‘You do something bad, they are going to stop you.’”
HISTORIC CHANGE TO CAMDEN’S SCHOOL DISTRICT
Believing further inaction in the face of a broken system to be immoral, Governor Christie took decisive action to reform the Camden School District. The Christie Administration, through the new state-appointed superintendent and leadership team, and in coordination with local and community leaders, is taking direct oversight in implementing the necessary reforms of the school district to start delivering better results for Camden students and their families.
Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard has brought renewed energy to the district and implemented a number of significant steps to begin that reform in his first school year:
· The formation of a safety-corridor initiative along with Mayor Dana Redd, that creates safe walking routes for students to and from school;
· Tackling the issue of the district’s school drop-outs by going door-to-door to re-enroll students;
· The creation of three new technology demonstration centers to give students access to computer labs and tools needed to prepare for success in a 21st century economy;
· A successful 100-day listening tour which resulted in the participation of hundreds of students, parents and community members who came together on behalf of the future Camden and its schoolchildren;
· Launched first annual Parent Survey to increase feedback; over 1,800 completed during Parent-Teacher conferences;
· Increased feedback for teachers and more individualized instruction for all students, especially students with disabilities.
BRINGING JOBS AND ECONOMIC GROWTH TO THE CITY
In September 2013, Governor Christie signed the bipartisan Economic Opportunity Act, a sweeping overhaul of New Jersey’s Economic Incentive Programs and the result of months of hard work from members of both parties. The EOA specifically refocuses New Jersey’s incentive programs to drive jobs and investment to the State’s most distressed communities through both lowered thresholds to qualify for the programs, as well as increased incentives available.
· The EOA designates the most in-need communities as Urban Garden State Growth Zones. The GSGZs are Camden, Trenton, Passaic and Paterson.
· NJ Spotlight: “Additional incentives and lower thresholds available exclusively to companies that locate in Camden are giving investors reason to consider the city, perhaps for the first time.” (Tara Nurin, “Early Returns: Economic Opportunity Act of 2013 off to Solid Start,” NJ Spotlight, 3/13/14)
· Camden County Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli Jr.: "It's already having an impact … We are already getting interest from developers and businesses that want to relocate to Camden. We will be creating over a thousand new jobs this year and millions of dollars in new investment." (Suzette Parmley, “Economic Opportunity Act already panning out,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, 3/24/14)
Camden Is Beginning To See Major Economic Development Projects:
· Holtec Manufacturing Facility: Holtec International, a leading-edge energy technology company, has announced the construction of a massive 600,000 square foot manufacturing and design facility on the Camden Waterfront. It is investing $260,000,000 in the facility – the largest ever capital infusion in the City of Camden. The project will mean 395 new and retained jobs, and generate thousands of construction jobs at the site.
o Holtec's founder, President and CEO, Dr. Singh: "We are acutely aware of our social responsibility. We will work with the State of New Jersey and the City of Camden to leverage our plant to serve as a training academy to help young men and women, especially unemployed Camden residents and veterans, to acquire skills that yield well-paying jobs."
· Cooper University Cancer Research Center: The groundbreaking has already occurred on a new $100 million cancer center at Cooper University hospital and helping to broker their partnership with MD Anderson, one of the nation’s premier cancer treatment and research centers.
· Rutgers Nursing and Science Building: Construction has begun on a new Nursing and Science Building at Rutgers University–Camden. The 100,000-square-foot building will be a state-of-the-art, $62.5 million teaching and research facility that will allow Rutgers to expand its ability to prepare a new generation of science and nursing leaders for New Jersey and the region.
· Philadelphia 76ers Practice Facility: The Philadelphia 76ers have announced the construction of a new 120,000-square-foot practice facility on the Camden riverfront. The brand-new $82 million building will bring 250 new and relocated jobs to the city and will also house the team’s front office operations.
· Holt Logistics Marine Terminal In Paulsboro: In neighboring Paulsboro, Holt Logistics Corp has announced a partnership with the South Jersey Port Corporation for construction of a new $170 million state-of-the-art marine terminal. The Holt 190-acre site represents the first new multi-purpose marine terminal to be constructed on the Delaware River in over three decades, and is estimated to create more than 850 permanent jobs when fully completed.