January 17, 2011

Mayor Redd Seals Camden's Doom

In 1968, my grandfather was mugged in broad daylight on the corner of Third and Stephens Streets in Camden, NJ.  His skull was fractured, and his neck was broken. He lingered, bedridden and unable to talk, until he succumbed to his injuries two years later.

I'd say it was a horrible way to die, and it was.  But worse, it was a horrible way to live; fully aware, and unable to communicate with anyone,  being fed through your nose, and suffering bed sores that went to the bone.

No one was ever arrested for this crime. Indeed, the police never had any suspects.  It's pretty certain they did nothing in terms of investigation; they reported that they had no idea where his car was; my father went to the spot where they picked him up, and it was parked 10 feet away.  With a parking ticket on it.

Things have not improved in Camden since then.  Crime rates have skyrocketed, earning Camden the title Most Dangerous City in the United States in 2004. It has consistently been in the top ten highest crime cities since 1998.  Currently, it's number two behind St. Louis.  In short, Camden has become hellish slum.

So, in a time of crisis, the very last thing you'd cut in a city with the highest crime rates in the country would be the police force.  Unless you're Camden Mayor Dana Redd, who is reducing the police force by 44%.

From CNN Money:
The mayor's office says that the cuts will not affect public safety.

"We're still going to protect our residents," said Robert Corrales, spokesman for Mayor Dana Redd. Public safety "will remain our top concern. We'll shift our resources to be more efficient with what we have."
Which only proves that Corrales is either an idiot, or a liar.  The city can't protect its citizens now.  It certainly can't do it with any less, let alone half.

Since the city is also laying off a huge chunk of its fire department, it's obvious that the mayor and the city commission doesn't give a rat's ass about the safety of its citizens. They might just as well fire everyone and set off firebombs and burn everything to the ground; the end result will be about the same.

From CNN Money:
One local business owner, David Brown, said he was anxious to see how the cuts unfold Tuesday.

"I don't understand how you can do more with less," he said. "I don't want to be a pessimist, but I can't be optimistic."
Yep, David.  You're fucked.  The Mayor and the Council have decided that it's time to put a lock on the title "MOST Dangerous City" once and for all.

The Philadelphia Inquirer
sums it up eloquently:
For longtime residents, who have watched the city change over the last half-century from a bustling manufacturing center to one of the nation's most- dangerous cities, the pending loss of almost half the city's police force felt like the beginning of the end.
Thanks to Mayor Redd and the city commission, it is exactly that.  Perhaps Camden residents can find nice safe homes in Detroit or St. Louis.  It's damned certain that businesses won't consider Camden - unless it's to dump toxic waste.

1 comment:

  1. Camden was given up for lost decades ago. The Feds and the state attempted to pave it over with that fat connecting interstate between the bridges, and when that only reduced the population, they just left it to local crime lords to murder everyone and each other to oblivion. Elected officials stole every penny of urban development and law enforcement grant money they could. This is just another chapter in a death even slower than the unfortunate one you describe of your grandfather's.