Overseer of Camden police transition stays on

Lanuel Ferguson
Lanuel Ferguson
Posted: August 17, 2013

The former state police major controversially hired last year to oversee Camden's transition to the new Camden County Police Department is getting a new $100,000 contract.

City Council unanimously approved a resolution Thursday that extends Lanuel Ferguson's contract for another year. The meeting, which wrapped up 40 minutes after it started, was one of the quickest sessions ever, leaving many latecomers surprised and without an opportunity to comment on resolutions.

Ferguson's duty this past year was to oversee the transition of the police department from a city-run force to a metro division under a new Camden County police umbrella. The division has been up and running since May 1. The county is now responsible for all aspects of city policing, with the exception of capital improvements.

Ferguson, 61, of Hamilton, Mercer County, will be the city's monitor in overseeing the county force and the financial impact to the city, city spokesman Robert Corrales said. The city is expected to pay $62 million annually to the county for police services.

"Someone needs to look out for the best interest of the city," Ferguson said after Thursday's meeting, adding that he will review detailed bills to look for any discrepancies.

However, he doesn't get to sign the checks. The state Division of Local Government Services is directly paying the county on behalf of the city from a dedicated city fund, according to the shared services agreement between the city and county for police services. The county will also manage all off-duty employment contracts, such as when one of the hospitals or waterfront attractions pays for dedicated police personnel, a common practice.

Under his new contract, Ferguson said, he will continue to work as the police liaison between city agencies such as public works and code enforcement and the county to request police services. He will also respond to citizen complaints about the force.

"People just need a basic understanding of what's going on," Ferguson said, referring to complaints about traffic stops. He responds to three to five complaints daily, he said.

His contract, which caused an uproar last year, was approved without any comment from the public or Council. Councilman Brian Coleman, who usually votes against county-police-related matters, was not present.

Ferguson retired from the state police in 2005 as a major. He receives nearly $90,000 in pension payments each year.

After a two-year retirement, Ferguson worked as interim public safety director of Bridgeton for two months and then went to work as security director of First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens, Somerset County, a 6,000-member congregation.

He was asked in 2011 to join the Redd administration as police director, a position that has been vacant for several years. City Council rejected the appointment, citing an unneeded layer of bureaucracy and too much money - $100,000, the same amount he received as a consultant last year and will receive again this year.

Ferguson came back to Camden last year under a no-bid consulting contract for special services.

During his first year in Camden, Ferguson said, he helped with the transition to a county police by coordinating the transfer of weapons and ammunition.

His $100,000 fee will be paid from the city's general fund, Corrales said.

Contact Claudia Vargas at 856-779-3917 or cvargas@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @InqCVargas. Read her blog, "Camden Flow," on www.inquirer.com/camdenflow.

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