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Portrait Of Police Reform: How Camden, New Jersey Rebuilt Its Police Department47:25
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On Oct. 16, 2012, Lisa Anderson wept after a cross in memory of her son, Lateaf Anderson, was placed in a field commemorating that year's homicide victims in Camden in front of City Hall.  (Photo by April Saul)
On Oct. 16, 2012, Lisa Anderson wept after a cross in memory of her son, Lateaf Anderson, was placed in a field commemorating that year's homicide victims in Camden in front of City Hall. (Photo by April Saul)

In 2013, the city of Camden, New Jersey fired all of its police officers and rebuilt the department. We look at the lessons learned for today.

Guests

Louis Capelli Jr., Camden County freeholder director. Architect of the Camden County Police Department. (@LouisCappelliJr)

April Saul, Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist. She worked at the Philadelphia Inquirer for over 30 years. She is now a freelance journalist focusing on the city of Camden.

Ojii BaBa Madi, lifelong Camden resident. Founder of Watu Moja, an organization that connects African American and Afro Latino youths to the African community. Justice minister at Asbury Community Church.

Nyeema Watson, associate chancellor for civic engagement at Rutgers University–Camden. (@nyeemacw)

Lessons in Police Reform: Photos by April Saul

On January 18, 2011, Camden police officers embraced and placed their boots along an icy sidewalk after nearly half of them were laid off. (Photo by April Saul)
On January 18, 2011, Camden police officers embraced and placed their boots along an icy sidewalk after nearly half of them were laid off. (Photo by April Saul)
Tya Miles, who'd only been a Camden cop for a year, prepares to lay her boots in a row with those laid off co-workers on January 18, 2011. (Photo by April Saul)
Tya Miles, who'd only been a Camden cop for a year, prepares to lay her boots in a row with those laid off co-workers on January 18, 2011. (Photo by April Saul)
Friends and family members react to the murder of five-year old Dominick Andujar at a vigil on the dead boy's doorstep on Sept. 5, 2012. (Photo by April Saul)
Friends and family members react to the murder of five-year old Dominick Andujar at a vigil on the dead boy's doorstep on Sept. 5, 2012. (Photo by April Saul)
On Oct. 16, 2012, Lisa Anderson wept after a cross in memory of her son, Lateaf Anderson, was placed in a field commemorating that year's homicide victims in Camden in front of City Hall. (Photo by April Saul)
On Oct. 16, 2012, Lisa Anderson wept after a cross in memory of her son, Lateaf Anderson, was placed in a field commemorating that year's homicide victims in Camden in front of City Hall. (Photo by April Saul)
Raven Walker, 18, cries for a murdered friend in the field of crosses in the fall of 2012. (Photo by April Saul)
Raven Walker, 18, cries for a murdered friend in the field of crosses in the fall of 2012. (Photo by April Saul)
At the field of crosses in Camden on December 15, 2012, Tyesha Pegues grieves for her sister, Rasheeda Pegues, who was shot and killed outside her Ferry Avenue apartment. (Photo by April Saul)
At the field of crosses in Camden on December 15, 2012, Tyesha Pegues grieves for her sister, Rasheeda Pegues, who was shot and killed outside her Ferry Avenue apartment. (Photo by April Saul)
In Camden on February 8, 2011, a laid-off police officer and her family confront Mayor Dana Redd at a heated meeting at City Hall. (Photo by April Saul)
In Camden on February 8, 2011, a laid-off police officer and her family confront Mayor Dana Redd at a heated meeting at City Hall. (Photo by April Saul)
On Oct. 9, 2012, Camden Police Chief Scott Thomson expresses sympathy to the family of a homicide victim in the field of crosses in front of city hall. (Photo by April Saul)
On Oct. 9, 2012, Camden Police Chief Scott Thomson expresses sympathy to the family of a homicide victim in the field of crosses in front of city hall. (Photo by April Saul)
In the field of crosses, mourner Holly Walker gets a hug from Camden Police Chief Scott Thomson. (Photo by April Saul)
In the field of crosses, mourner Holly Walker gets a hug from Camden Police Chief Scott Thomson. (Photo by April Saul)
In Camden, NJ, Camden County police officer Oliver Isshak holds the football for a child to kick while officer Nicholas Voorhees watches on April 1, 2014. (Photo by April Saul)
In Camden, NJ, Camden County police officer Oliver Isshak holds the football for a child to kick while officer Nicholas Voorhees watches on April 1, 2014. (Photo by April Saul)
On May 30, 2020, Camden County Metro Police Chief Joe Wysocki raises a fist while marching with Camden residents and activists to protest the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. (Photo by April Saul)
On May 30, 2020, Camden County Metro Police Chief Joe Wysocki raises a fist while marching with Camden residents and activists to protest the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. (Photo by April Saul)
Lieutenant Zack James of the Camden County Metro Police Department marched along with demonstrators in Camden, NJ on May 30, 2020 to protest the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. (Photo by April Saul)
Lieutenant Zack James of the Camden County Metro Police Department marched along with demonstrators in Camden, NJ on May 30, 2020 to protest the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. (Photo by April Saul)

From The Reading List

Bloomberg: "How Camden, New Jersey, Reformed Its Police Department" — "Across the U.S., protesters have taken to the streets to express rage after the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin."

Philadelphia Inquirer: "Camden disbanded its police department and built a new one. Can others learn from it?" — "As fires burned and Philadelphia police clashed with protesters, across the river during the last two weeks, Camden remained calm. It had its own protest, but Police Chief Joe Wysocki marched in front."

Al Jazeera: "Is Camden NJ a model for change in US police forces? Yes and no" — "The killing of George Floyd, 46, while in the custody of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on May 25 ignited protests across the United States and demands for police accountability and reform."

Washington Post: "Police unions and police misconduct: What the research says about the connection" — "Some of the most shocking images to emerge from the demonstrations that have dominated recent headlines stem from violent interactions between law enforcement officers and peaceful protesters. They’ve also escalated calls for police reform."

NBC New York: "What Happened in One NJ City After Police Was Disbanded and Rebuilt" — "With so much talk of defunding or disbanding entire police forces, a notion gaining steam in Minneapolis following the death of George Floyd, it may surprise people to know that the idea is not a new one."

Citylab: "What Happened to Crime in Camden?" — "When Camden, New Jersey’s Chief of Police J. Scott Thomson joined the Camden police force as an officer 25 years ago, there were 175 open-air drug markets lining just nine square miles of streets."

CNN: "This city disbanded its police department 7 years ago. Here's what happened next" — "Last week, Minneapolis officials confirmed they were considering a fairly rare course of action: disbanding the city police department."

Wall Street Journal: "Calls to Cut Funding for Police Grow in Wake of Protests" — "Momentum to overhaul policing across the nation gained steam on Monday, as a sweeping House bill and a push to cut funding to departments snowballed amid protests sparked by the killing of a black man in Minneapolis police custody last month."

New York Times: "Camden Turns Around With New Police Force" — "In the summer of 2012, the year this city broke its own record for homicides, there were 21 people murdered here. This summer, there were six."

Tap into Camden: "Camden Youth Keep Momentum Going for Black Lives Matter, Spell Out Demands to Police" — "When he was 19, Javon Saint Cloud was pulled over by police in Pennsauken where he lives."

This program aired on June 11, 2020.

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Anna Bauman Associate Producer/Director, On Point
Anna Bauman is an associate producer at On Point.

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Meghna Chakrabarti is the host of On Point.

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