Another mark Camden could live without

Posted: November 18, 2012

AHOMICIDE in Camden Friday morning was the 59th of the year, setting a one-year record for slayings in a city that has long struggled with violence.

Prosecutors said the killing occurred in the Fairview neighborhood, a relatively remote area that was once the most bucolic and among the most peaceful parts of the city.

Charles Nicholson, 44, was shot multiple times through the window of his car as he sat parked on a street not far from the Black Horse Pike, and was found dead when police arrived, authorities said. His death means that 2012 has surpassed 1995 as the year with the most slayings in city history.

If New Jersey, with 8.8 million people, had the same homicide rate over a full year, that would translate into more than 7,000 murders per year, or about 20 times as many as it has in a typical year.

Another cross will be planted in front of City Hall by a group of activists commemorating homicide victims there, another candle will be lit at a sad year-end traditional vigil.

With about 77,000 residents, Camden regularly ranks as one of the nation's poorest and most violent cities, even in years with relatively few homicides.

It's been a tough time in the business of policing the city. In January 2011, nearly half the police force was laid off in a budget crunch.

The Camden County government is now taking applications for a new police force it's forming to replace the city's department. The new force is expected to have lower per-officer expenses because more officers will start at the low end of the pay scale and old contractual obligations such as shift differentials can be avoided.

- ASSOCIATED PRESS

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