Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli Jr. said Cordero's responsibilities would include creating policies, work rules, and hiring guidelines.
"He's had a tremendous amount of success everywhere he's been," Cappelli said. "We hope that Camden will be his next success story."
Cordero's stints as the East Orange police director, from 2004 to 2008 and again in 2010-11, helped cut crime more than 70 percent over nine years, according to news reports, in part with such strategies as high-end computer systems.
"His experience and knowledge in policing will help form the very structure of our police department," Cappelli said.
East Orange did not renew his contract in 2011, citing an abrasive leadership style, his $160,000 salary, and his residence outside the city, the Newark Star-Ledger reported.
Officials say $120,000 in forfeited funds seized by the Camden County Prosecutor's Office during arrests would cover six months of salary. But officials are hoping the state will pay the balance as part of the start-up costs.
County officials are negotiating with Gov. Christie's office over those costs and an early-retirement plan for officers.
More than 70 percent of Camden's budget comes from the state. Christie has pushed Camden and other cities to move away from their historic reliance on subsidies.
In an e-mailed statement, Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak called the expected Cordero hiring "a significant step" in the process.
Cordero, who rose to the rank of inspector in the New York Police Department and was chief in Newton, Mass., could not be reached for comment.
The proposed county plan would start with a metro division that would patrol only Camden. The existing city force would be dismantled, and only up to 49 percent of current officers would be rehired.
Advocates say the county department - paid for by the city's budget - would boost the force, now numbering about 270, to about 400 officers and better protect Camden, one of the nation's most dangerous cities.
The Camden force has been burdened since the mayor laid off 168 police officers in January 2011 to cover a budget gap. Many of those officers were hired back.
Suburban towns have balked at the idea of being part of the plan.
City activists and police unions say the plan is a union-busting move and would neither save money nor make streets safer.
Last week, a Superior Court judge dealt a blow to efforts to keep the city department intact when he ruled against putting the matter before voters this summer.
Opponents of the county force had collected 2,700 signatures in support of a ballot question to put the issue to residents.
If the ordinance dissolving the force is passed, opponents will move to create another petition drive to put the matters before voters again, according to John Williamson, president of the Fraternal Order of Police lodge in Camden.
A 2010 federal lawsuit in which Williamson is a plaintiff claims that a quota system required officers to make a certain number of stops an hour and punished them for not doing so. The system allegedly started after then-Attorney General Anne Milgram, who appointed Cordero, announced the 2008 Camden plan.
Williamson declined to comment on Cordero's likely hiring, but said: "A lot of the things that surround our current litigation against the chief and city involves stuff that Cordero oversaw the implementation of."
Thomson has said there is no quota system.
In a statement, Thomson, who worked with Cordero when Cordero served as state director of law enforcement, praised him.
"Jose Cordero is a mission-driven, task-oriented individual who has vast experience in urban policing and a familiarity with the extraordinary challenges of Camden," Thomson said.
Contact Darran Simon at 856-779-3829 or email@example.com, or follow on Twitter @darransimon.