so tonight some of us went to a ccop (Camden Churches Organized for People) action around the issues of violence and policing in camden. one of our community members is an organizer for ccop and so has gotten us pretty involved. there were close to 1000 people in attendance as well as the attorney general of new jersey, the chief operating officer (he acts as the primary leader in camden, not the mayor, and he is not elected) and city counsel people. the action was to propose that the camden police department gets some solid leadership (like a police chief which the department does not have) and that the department would adopt a community policing method which gives residents more control over how policing is done. after all, they live there and have quite a bit of insight on the problems and possible solutions.
sooo...of course the attorney general and coo danced around the questions but do seem to be spending more of their time on the problems in camden. she, the attorney general, had to leave early which, of course, gave the residents of camden the sense that this wasn't a priority. and i wonder if it is a priority.
one of the statistics that stuck out to me was the right now we've had 35 murders in camden...as of this week. our average over the past 5 years is 40 per year and camden has a population of about 80,000. that's very high. philadelphia, crime ridden herself, has an average of about 450 murders in a year with a polulation of 1.5 million. if camden were as populated as philly and if we continued with our murder rate we would have an average of about 725 murders a year... that's over 3500 murders in 5 years.
something else that stuck out to me was that since our meeting was on policing a lot of in uniform police officers were there... our meeting was in church. it was unsettling to see so many weapons in church.
however, i want to end on a positive note. i did take a nice long bike ride today with cheryl, my housemate, and we took some pretty pictures.