The city that remade its police department​​​​​​​

CityLab Daily

Small steps: In many U.S. cities, police have responded to George Floyd protesters with riot gear, rubber bullets, and an excessive show of force. But something different happened in Camden, New Jersey: Officers brought an ice cream truck to a march over the weekend, and the city's police chief held a "Standing in Solitary" poster alongside demonstrators. 

The relationship between Camden police and the citizens they serve wasn't built overnight. Instead, it took eight years of reform, starting with the disbanding of the local police department in 2012, a gradual pivot to community policing, and a careful policy restricting officers' use of force. Even now, it's still a work in progress. Some local activists say the May 30 protest felt more like a political rally; others are calling for more civilian oversight. 

"I think it's going to be a long time — even with the best intentions like here in Camden City — where people of color will not be scared that they will die at the hands of police," said Nyeema Watson, Rutgers University at Camden's associate chancellor for civic engagement. For Bloomberg Businessweek, CityLab's Sarah Holder looks at what it takes for a city to remake its police department, and where shortfalls remain.

-Linda Poon

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What We're Reading

  • How the protests have changed the pandemic (New Yorker)
  • Looting deals a second blow to reeling businesses in minority neighborhoods (Wall Street Journal)
  • The National Guard is working double time on protests and pandemic. Next up: hurricanes. (Mother Jones)
  • For one immigrant community, George Floyd's death isn't just about black and white (NPR)
  • Ohio taco chain employees walked out when asked to fill a mass order for police (Eater)


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