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Philadelphia Officials Turn To Camden, New Jersey For Advice On How To Reduce Violence In City

CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) -- The City of Philadelphia continues to look for solutions to reduce violence. On Monday, officials crossed the river to get advice from their neighbors.

Camden, New Jersey Mayor Frank Moran showed the city's downtown development to Philadelphia Council President Darrell Clarke and Philadelphia City Councilman Curtis Jones.

The pair traveled across the river to learn from Camden's success in reducing violent crimes and poverty in its city.

"You know two cities-one bridge and council president wanted to come over and we welcome him with open arms," Moran said.

One of the stops was at the Camden County Police Department.

Once considered one of America's most dangerous cities, Camden County police says there has been a 60% drop in its homicide rate over the past five years and a 40% drop in violent crime

Moran says one reason is intense community policing.

"Our community policing mechanism is working. Our officers are playing with the children in the communities," he said. "They're known by first name. They give away their cellphones and that's made the difference."

He also says addressing the public education system and the revitalization projects like replacing an old prison near the Camden waterfront with a park, along with corporate investments like the Philadelphia 76ers practice facility opening in 2016. They're all strategies Philly's council president wants to possibly try in Philadelphia.

"You can't arrest your way out of the problem and you have to provide the appropriate educational opportunities," Clarke said. "You have to have careers and job opportunities for those individuals that you're asking to turn their lives around."

Philadelphia had 355 homicides in 2019, the highest it has been in a decade.

With more than 1.5 million residents, Philadelphia is nearly 20 times the size of Camden.

"If you take lessons from small things, you can bring them up to scale," Jones said.

Moran acknowledged that there is still a drug addiction problem in downtown Camden and vowed to do more.

"We're addressing it now and you can go downtown and take a look at the changes and again, it's a holistic approach. It's not a one-prong approach," he said.

Clarke said he plans to return for another meeting in the coming months.

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