Camden, New Jersey: Enter At Your Own Risk

Camden, New Jersey is one of the poorest citie...

Image via Wikipedia

Camden, New Jersey was just ranked the second most dangerous city in the United States.  A 2009 estimate census showed Camden’s population at 78,790.  Camden has a police force of 373 or one officer for every 211 people (This figure does not include civilian employees). The US average is one officer per 333 people.  The land area of the city is 8.8 square miles. 

Six months ago, 50 new officers were hired to beef up security for the beleaguered city.  Now it appears that on January 18th, up to 180 officers could be laid off.  Camden is financially distressed and is asking the officers to take a 20% pay cut.  Police sources say the pay cut approaches 35% with all total concessions.  Some of the new officers are wondering why they were hired in the first place.  On a positive note, there are other cities lining up to recruit any laid off Camden cops.  Nashville, Atlanta and Norfolk are interested in hiring any Camden law enforcement budget casualties. 

Camden has been in a free fall for decades.  Major employers like RCA, Campbell’s Soup and New York Shipbuilding employed well over 50,000 people.  Camden’s population peaked in 1950 at 124,555 residents.  The 2009 estimate shows a net loss of 45,765 residents since 1950 or about 37%.  By comparison, the state of New Jersey’s population has nearly doubled since 1950. 

41.7% of Camden residents lived in poverty in 2008.  Camden was ranked as American’s poorest city in 2006 when 52% of its residents lived in poverty.  By contrast, New Jersey had the nations second highest per capita personal income in 2008, the highest percentage of millionaire households and is second in the US for towns/cities with per capital incomes above the national average (76.4%).

Camden’s median household income was estimated at $24,283 per year in 2008 (NJ $70,378).  The estimated per capita income for Camden in 2008 was $10,771.  In April 2010 the unemployment rate in Camden was 18.1%, compared to 9.6% for the state of New Jersey.  

Camden scored a 967.6 crime index on City-data.com for 2009.  There were 34 murders.  In 2008 Camden scored 1114.6 and had 54 murders.  As we learned in my earlier post about crime stats, a score of over 700 is considered HIGH and a score about 1000 is considered VERY HIGH.

So what will become of Camden if, worst case scenario, 48% of their officers are laid off!  Or even if only 25% are laid off.  I shudder to think!

Enter at your own risk! 

(Demographic data taken from Wikipedia and City-data.com.)

4 comments on “Camden, New Jersey: Enter At Your Own Risk

  1. I haven’t been to Camden in years. Sadly, the photo you posted is exactly the picture I have in my head from the last time I was there. Camden’s story is the epitome of the downward spiral that seemed – and became – unstoppable. Widespread and continued corruption of public officials over many years was a major factor in their inability to stop the spiral. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around that kind of despair, esp. in a nation with such riches elsewhere.

  2. Sue, Camden is the poster child for blight and crime. This story is heartbreaking because those 78,000 people have to live in third world conditions!!! If they lay off all those cops, it will be like the wild, wild, west. Most of these people don’t deserve to be forced to live like that. They are held hostage by poverty! Speaking of riches, just look at places like Cherry Hill and Haddonfield, minutes away! It certainly illustrates the income divide in this country! And people wonder why we are fighting so hard to keep Pottstown from becoming like Camden??

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