Obama Visits Camden to Talk Policing

One of America's most dangerous cities could be on the upswing.

President Barack Obama is visiting Camden today, taking a close look at the policing operations of a city that appears to be becoming safer.

“The newly-established Camden County Police Department has gained national recognition for the strides its made in its use of community policing,” KYW reports. “During his visit, the president will tour the Real-Time Tactical Operational Intelligence Center at the police department’s headquarters.”

We’ve talked a lot in the last year about how Camden is apparently becoming safer. “Camden remains imperfect, populated by miles of abandoned buildings and with a violence rate that’s still above-average,” we wrote last September. “But residents are seeing the improvements.”

One of the improvements is a bulked-up police force. “We have up to 400 officers now,” Freeholder Lou Capelli said last month. “There were times in the past when there were only 12 to 14 police officers on duty in the entire city at one time; now we have that many in a single neighborhood.”

It’s not going perfectly, though.

“Nearly 120 officers – including large swaths of recruiting classes – have resigned or retired, making the department’s turnover one of the highest in the state,” the Inquirer reports. “The attrition threatens to be an obstacle for the county-run force in its quest to build a strong relationship between officers and residents.”

The visit comes just as Obama Administration has announced that it will stop, or limit, the transfer of military-style equipment to local police forces. “The banned items are tracked armored vehicles, bayonets, grenade launchers, ammunition of .50-caliber or higher and some types of camouflage uniforms, according to a report released by a White House working group that made the recommendations,” the Washington Post reports. “Other equipment, including tactical vehicles, explosives and riot equipment, will be transferred only if local police provide additional certification and assurances that the gear will be used responsibly, according to the report.”