Former New Jersey mayor says Minneapolis police reform is doable

Minneapolis Police Car
Photo credit Star Tribune via Getty Images / Contributor

The former Mayor of Camden, New Jersey is weighing-in on calls to defund and dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department after officers killed George Floyd on May 25.

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Dana Redd was mayor from 2010-2018 and is credited for providing police reform to her city that drastically. In 2013, the city disbanded its city police department and moved toward a county-run force.

"We were facing a fiscal and public safety budget deficit of $26 million as a result of a recession," Redd told Dave Lee during the WCCO Morning News on Wednesday. "When we could not negotiate concessions with our police and fire departments, unfortunately back in 2011 we had to layoff almost half of our Camden City Police Department."

From there, Redd explored partnerships throughout multiple levels of government, community clergy, and business stakeholders. The city department was dissolved and officers had to reapply for jobs on the county force. 

"During this planning process, we always had the community's voice at the table and engaged in standing-up the new department," Redd said. "I believe that the community policing efforts and building community trust, which quite frankly is the most critical element in public safety, is what we are witnessing today as a result of the Unity March held on March 30 with our police chief standing in solidarity with our community."

The change for Camden saw a downwards shift in use of police force.

"There is constant training that is constantly utilized by our police chief with his members to make sure that we are current on all of the way to engage with the community that are positive and preventative, if you will, social interactions."

The first assignment given to the new police force on May 1, 2013 was to go to each Camden home and introduce themselves to the community.

"That was something Camden had never seen in our history of a municipality," Redd said. "A police officer knocking on their door not to harass, but to introduce themselves."

That model of policing carried into other community events hosted by police including pop-up barbecues, basketball games, and classroom readings.

"We see a lot of positive engagements, which has been consistent since our department was launched," Redd said.

Redd added that the number of complaints against police have dropped.