As reported by nj.com, the last county parks department in the State will be shuttered soon, as officials in Camden County announced they plan to close the office due to a dearth of service calls and an already dwindling force. The 13 officers remaining in the parks police department will be transferred this spring to the countywide police force, which will be tasked with patrolling Camden City.
“This process has been ongoing for years and will finally bring Camden County in line with its counterparts in the state by eliminating this duplicative service,” said Camden County Freeholder Lou Cappelli, in a statement. “All parks police officers will be transferred and re-purposes to the Camden County Police Department’s Metro Division, so they can have more of an impact on crime.”
According to county officials, closing the parks police, which patrols Camden County’s 22 parks throughout 17 of its 37 municipalities, will save $2 million. County officials said the $2 million savings will be put toward other countywide public safety services, including the dispatch center.
Camden County spokesman Dan Keashen pointed to a study conducted for the county by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, which states the parks police office currently manages a “modest workload and the absence of attention-demanding crime.” Keashen stated the department averages about two services calls per day.
“The statistics speak for themselves and as we assess our public safety needs throughout the county it is evident that these officers would be more effective in the Metro Division,” said Cappelli. “That said, the budgetary savings from the elimination of the parks police can be reinvested into our emergency communications center and our growing emergency operations center, both of which are undergoing significant upgrades.”