With crime steadily decreasing and the police force rebuilding, Camden officials are optimistic the city could be on the brink of an economic surge.

Gov. Chris Christie and Camden Mayor Dana Redd in Camden June 3 (Tim Larsen, Governor's Office)

The governor stood in front of Camden City Hall Tuesday morning to tout the 30 percent crime drop in the first quarter of 2014 and to announce the graduation of 70 officers who will be part of the Metro Division of the county police force, tasked with patrolling the city, bolstering the force closer to its goal of more than 400 officers.

Christie said the city is a "model for other cities to embrace." He praised the start of a new state-appointed school district superintendent and had high hopes for the city's economic future after the passage of last year's Economic Opportunity Act.

"I suspect I'll be here a number of times more over the course of the next six months with more important announcements of Camden's economic future," Christie said.

Camden Mayor Dana Redd and Camden County Freeholder Director Lou Cappelli joined the governor during Tuesday's press conference.

Redd said improved public safety, better education, and  more job creation are the three pillars that can help the city thrive economically.

"I believe people are going to take another look at cities such as Camden and move back. We expect that our middle class will invest and move back into places like Camden," the mayor said.

While a safer Camden is good news for the city's residents, Cappelli added it's something the residents of nearby Chery Hill and other suburban communities will also find beneficial.

"All crime is regional, some bases are in the city but some of the crime generals and soldiers are out in the suburbs," Cappelli said. "So it's stupid to just look at the city and say 'that's where all the crime is.'"


Courtesy Governor's Office