Virginia Matias was a senior in high school when her uncle Miguel Espinal was shot and killed during an armed robbery at his corner store.
The robber shot Espinal in the abdomen and made off with $900 from his La Dominicana store in East Camden.
The slaying prompted Matias, now 27, to study law and justice at Rowan University with an eye toward becoming a police officer in Camden, to try to prevent similar acts of senseless violence.
This month, Matias graduated from the Camden County police academy, along with 108 others in the largest graduating class to date. Eighty-nine of the officers, including Matias, are now working for the Camden County Police Metro Division. Another class, graduating in April, will bring the force up to 411 officers, county officials said.
Deep poverty appears to be accelerating in Delaware and Camden Counties, as the poorest of the poor scramble for rent, heat, and food.
In the city of Chester, Donald Grover, 47, and his wife, Melissa Zirilli, 43, can’t do their jobs – he because the home-remodeling firm he works for cut his time from 60 hours a week to nearly nothing, she because debilitating seizures keep her from being a nurse’s aide.
In the city of Camden, Mark Woodall, 49, once a construction worker and a trained cook, now makes $10 an hour in a soup kitchen as he and his out-of-work fiancee are forced to live on a street he says is thronged with armed teenagers “without morals.”
“Lack of work is really, really hurting us,” said Zirilli, who lives with her husband and three children on about $6,000 a year.
Chester County‘s West Goshen is No. 10 on the main list, which this year focuses on “small towns,” with 10,000 to 50,000 people. No surprise there, since West Goshen made the Top 25 on the last two “small towns” lists, in 2011 and 2009.
“West Goshen Township has a lush, suburban feel, with quiet, tree-shaded residential areas, lovely parks, and a full slate of community activities,” Money summed up.
Horsham was No. 34 this year, off a little from No. 31 in 2011, while Ardmore, No. 45 in 2011, failed to made this year’s Top 50.
No. 1 was “one-time summer resort” Sharon, Mass.
Gov. Christie came to Camden Wednesday to hail the advent of a new county-run police force in the city as “a transformational moment for both the city of Camden and Camden County – most importantly for the people, the children, the families, and the neighborhoods that they live in.”
Christie, an early supporter of the new Camden County Police, which Wednesday replaced the nearly 184-year-old city police department, said it would lead to “better, stronger, more effective, more visible law enforcement.”
Flanked by the new department’s leadership, the governor spoke at the swearing-in ceremony for former city Police Chief Scott Thomson, the new chief of the city’s metro division, in Malandra Hall, a community center in the Fairview Village section.
Before Christie’s remarks, more than a dozen former city officers gathered outside. Some carried signs indicating their years of service and made a symbolic line on the street with their patrolman’s boots in a neat row. One retired sergeant said the group had come to attend the ceremony but was told it was a private event.
Editor’s note: Do you think they are aiming for a 1 – 2 percent decrease in crime for the first year like Pottstown is????
In a community center in Camden’s Parkside neighborhood, two dozen officers stood at attention in rows of twos and threes, their hands clasped, staring stone-faced – an unusual show of force not far from a drug hot spot.
The officers, all newly minted, were the prime exhibit in a show-and-tell Monday, presented as the first batch of a new county-run force to hit the city’s streets.
Outside the building on the 1100 block of Haddon Avenue, more than a dozen police cars and SUVs with a new logo – “Camden County Police” – blocked the street.
“I thought somebody got killed. That’s the only time I see that much police in this area,” said LeRoy Ryan, 33, as he stood on the porch of his brother’s house across the street.
TRENTON – Gov. Christie plans to announce Monday that he is taking the extraordinary step of putting the educational and fiscal management of the Camden School District under state control, The Inquirer has learned.
As part of the takeover of what the state considers the worst-performing district in New Jersey, Christie will appoint a new superintendent and leadership team, shifting the school board to an advisory role, according to Christie administration officials briefed on the plan.
The Republican governor’s move nonetheless has support from at least a few school board members and key Democratic leaders in the South Jersey political establishment, some of whom are expected to join Christie at the takeover announcement Monday in the city, officials said.
Camden will become the fourth urban district under state control, after Paterson, Newark, and Jersey City. This is the first takeover initiated by Christie, who will add the severely challenged district to his education portfolio less than eight months before his reelection bid.
Camden Mayor Dana L. Redd submitted a plan this afternoon to the state Civil Service Commission to lay off the city’s entire police department, paving the way for a county-run force.
A source knowledgeable about the matter said no layoffs would occur until the new department has at least 250 officers patrolling the streets of Camden.
Once fully operational, the county force is expected to number about 400 – about 140 more officers than are on the present city police force.
Camden County officials, citing the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, yesterday extended their deadline for receiving applications for the new force by six weeks to Jan. 15. They have said they would only rehire up to 49 percent of the current roster so that the terms of the existing union contract do not extend to the new department.
A joint effort between Rutgers University students, the Camden District Council Collaborative Board and Angel Osorio, community justice director in the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office is aimed at cleaning up and improving pubic safety in one of Camden’s most notorious neighborhoods.
North Camden is a crime-ridden neighborhood that needs a lot of help. Rutgers students have enrolled themselves in a class to replace burnt out street lights, remove graffiti and clean up 23 alleys. This is not a class for the faint of heart. Checking the street lights means driving around one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the county looking for burnt out street lights, in the dark.
In a twelve block area, 16 out of 47 street lights were out. Lighting up Camden will reduce crime. PSE&G is notified of the broken lights and tries to fix them as quickly as possible. The lighting project also includes finding funding so that residents can install and pay for porch lights (Fifth Ward Councilor Dan Weand has suggested this very idea for Pottstown). Unfortunately in Camden, street lights are vandalized according to PSE&G.
This class came about as a result of Rutgers officials working with community members who are trying to carry out the North Camden Neighborhood Plan. The class’s instructor, Lt. Daniel Howard, is a 24-year veteran of the Mount Laurel police department. Rutgers-Camden’s new chancellor, Wendell Pritchett, wants his campus to be a national model for a civically engaged university.
Rutgers new director of civic engagement, Andrew Seligshon stated Rutgers sees itself as an anchor institution in Camden. The university wants to attract good students and faculty members. North Camden residents want a safer, more attractive neighborhood and better schools. By partnering together, everybody wins!
I wish I had more than two thumbs to put up! Talk about teaching social responsibility! Awesome program and kudos to all involved.
A 72-year-old Cherry Hill, NJ grandmother is in the Camden County jail on three counts of conspiracy and $300,000.00 bail. Evidently Mom-Mom tried to unknowingly hire an undercover police officer to “inflict serious bodily injury” on her ex-husband, son and daughter. The neighbors were not surprised and said this situation has been brewing for 30 years. Police also have a large file on Mom-Mom (say it ain’t so Joe).
Nothing said lovin’ like puttin’ out a contract for a beat-down on your children and ex-husband.
Lions and tigers and bears, OH MY!