Camden Police Chief Wants Officers to Use Violence Less Often

Announces mentoring plan to emphasize "de-escalation" techniques.

The chief of Camden County Police has always had a mission of reducing violence in the community, but now he’s choosing a novel way to accomplish the task — by reducing his own department’s use of force.

Chief Scott Thomson this week told officers he is creating a new mentorship program within the department to focus on minimizing the use of force and increasing the use of “de-escalation techniques.”

The South Jersey Times:

“The goal is to enhance your abilities with tools proven to effectively guide a professional response, calm volatile situations, sustain your wellness and build upon the earned confidence and trust of our community,” said the chief in his letter.

“We are in very challenging times, across the country, regarding the relationship between police and the community,” he later added. “The actions of one can direct the fate of all. I am cognizant of that. This department started in Camden during a time when the relationship with the community was fragile. I want to stress that it’s important to treat everyone with respect — and that includes the people we arrest. There is never an excuse to dehumanize someone. We are not judge and jury.”

The Courier-Post says the rank-and-file are apparently buying in:

Bill Wiley, president of FOP Lodge 218, endorsed the mentoring effort for his union’s members.

“It identifies problems sooner and it helps the officers,” he said. “It really enhances what the officers are capable of doing.”

The program formally begins today.