Camden Crediting Community Policing Behind City's Lowest Crime Rate In Nearly 50 Years

CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) -- Several women in the Camden County Police Department are breaking the glass ceiling. It's part of the City of Camden's continuing efforts to connect with the community.

Officials say community policing has changed the trajectory of crime in the city of Camden. Right now, it is at a near 50-year low.

A group of five women was promoted to captain at the Camden County Police Department.

"I'm going to do my job and do my job well," Capt. Vivian Coley said.

Words from a mother of two young Black men.

Coley credits her department for techniques taught on a regular basis.

Coley becomes the first African American female captain in the department's history.

"Any arrest that's made, we use de-escalation techniques, we use our verbal commands," she said.

Whether on foot patrol or checking on businesses …

"We were so used to seeing officers always sitting in cars," Capt. Brandon Kersey said. "But we're actually preaching to our officers now to get out and engage in the community, whether it's negative or positive."

Kersey says the culture in the department has changed, which, in turn, has led to a 96% clearance rate for homicides in the Metro Division and a significant decrease in excessive force complaints.

Daniel Muñoz has lived in Camden his entire life and sees the difference.

"They are being trained to deal with not only criminals but people with mental illness," Muñoz said. "Because a lot of times people with mental illness, you have to approach them differently."

The department has been focusing on transparency, positive engagements and constant training.

"An officer may have been in a situation yesterday where we're able to bring him in the following day or the day of, to go over that incident, and just give him different ways of handling it so the training is continuous," Kersey said.

In addition to Coley's promotion, Lt. Janelle Simpson was also promoted to captain, the first Latina in this role for the city.

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