Peterson listened in at a news conference that Redd, Camden County Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli Jr., and other officials held Friday to discuss the proposed mass layoff of the city police force. Redd formally asked the state Civil Service Commission for approval Thursday.
"This is change that will produce measurable outcomes," Redd said.
Said City Council President Frank Moran: "Today is a day when we turn the page to a safer Camden."
The city and county have released few details of the financial underpinnings of the plan, and Camden police union leaders, as well as some police management consultants, assessed it skeptically Friday.
"You can't have more officers, pay them more, and pay less" for the new force, said John Williamson, president of the rank-and-file union. He was referring to aspects of the plan revealed so far by county and city officials, including an estimate Friday of $20 million in cost savings - an amount at the higher end of earlier projections.
The county-run force's so-called Metro Division, which will patrol the city, is projected to have 400 uniformed officers and 100 civilian employees, close to double the current size of the city department. In addition, the city plans to retain the current 60 civilian employees of the police department by creating a department of public safety.
Salaries for the new county officers are expected to be comparable to, and in some instances greater than, what current officers earn. The savings would come from eliminating certain perks, officials have said.
The budget for the new, larger force is estimated to be $63 million, about $6 million higher than what the city has budgeted for the current department of 267 officers and the 60 civilians.
Officials have declined to release details, saying the budget for the county force is not yet finalized. Still unknown also is the financial commitment Gov. Christie may make toward the start-up costs. Those costs have been projected to be near $6 million.
Capelli exuded confidence Friday about the state's commitment, suggesting Trenton might give even more if the costs were higher. He said he expected a final agreement on start-up costs next week.
Michael Drewniak, a Christie spokesman, said in an e-mail that the state remained supportive of the county force, but did not clarify what aid it would commit toward start-up costs and toward sustaining the department in the long haul.
Nearly 70 percent of the city's $150 million budget is currently funded by the state.
"The county is working on a long-term plan to fund this department," said Dan Keashen, a county spokesman.
Those involved with the planning of the department have said they expect to realize savings by eliminating fringe benefits such as shift differentials.
One expert cautioned Friday that such savings could be short-lived.
"Let's keep in mind, the officers will become unionized, and they are going to negotiate" for some of the benefits that are being eliminated, said Walter Zalisko, a 30-year Jersey City police veteran who now runs a police management consulting company in Florida. "It's starting lean, but it's going to explode in a few years."
Earlier this year, after two years of consideration, several municipalities in Somerset County balked at a plan to combine police forces in a county department.
Nineteen of the 21 towns said no and the plan unraveled, said Richard Celeste, cochair of the task force that worked on the consolidation.
"The cost savings we would anticipate weren't really there" once officials realized that new buildings would have to be constructed as precincts and headquarters for the new force, Celeste said Friday.
The Metro Division would be housed in the current city police headquarters on Federal Street, and the new county department would have offices at the Lakeland complex in Gloucester Township.
Zalisko said regionalized police departments have worked in some places where they are run by "competent leadership" that does not allow patronage. He expressed skepticism that Camden County was in that mold.
"Given Camden's patronage history . . . give it a year or two and you'll see more positions being created," he said.
Contact Claudia Vargas at 856-779-3917, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @InqCVargas. Read her blog, "Camden Flow," at www.philly.com/camden_flow.