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Guardian Angels are looking for new recruits

Camden, NJ police officers are turning in their badges this week. Due to steep budget cuts and reduced state aid the city is facing a huge deficit. The state has approved the layoff of 300 public workers including half of the police force and one-third of the city’s firefighters. Considering its small population of 70,000, Camden City has the 2nd highest crime rate in the US. They come 2nd to Detroit.

Several years ago the State of New Jersey took over running the school district due to corruption, reporting discrepancies and stealing from administrators. The police force already deals with a crime rate 5 times higher than the national average. Criminals taunt them, knowing their presence isn’t intimidating.

The Guardian Angels are putting the word out that they will be present in Camden. The patrols started this weekend and they will be the voice for the people. Members from as far as Chicago and Connecticut traveled to band together and keep the streets safe. The Camden Police have “unofficially” welcomed the support. Hopefully they can ease the burden put on the remaining officers.

Just a few blocks away is Adventure Aquarium, a state of the art aquarium that houses a Stingray Beach, 2 African Hippos, more than 500,000 gallons of shark and much more. I wonder how much state and government aid it took to renovate a couple years back.  $10 billion in equipment, transport, tools and weapons have gone unaccounted for in the Iraq War. Our government is spending money to send our troops to keep citizens of OTHER countries safe.

The city is in trouble and has been for a long time. With a history of corrupt mayors and government officials the rest of the country has turned their back on them. The community is passed the “in danger” title. Camden is crumbling around the people who live there. Streets and streets of boarded up homes and businesses, drug dealers working in plain sight of children and city officials and over 50% of the community living below the poverty level leaves this city with no way out.

We’ve bailed out the banks and auto manufacturers; we’ve given assistance to those unable to make their mortgage payments. When do we save our cities and the people who are struggling to survive in these situations? How do we protect those unable to protect themselves when you chop down the police and fire presence in an already impoverished community?