CAMDEN — A homicide in Camden Friday morning was the 59th of the year, setting a one-year record for slayings in a city that has long struggled with violence.
The Camden County Prosecutor’s Office said someone was killed in the Fairview neighborhood — a relatively remote area that was once the most bucolic and among the most peaceful parts of the city.
Details of the killing were not available Friday afternoon.
Slayings in the city in 2012 has surpassed 1995. If New Jersey, with 8.8 million people, had the same homicide rate over a full year, it would translate to more than 7,000 murders per year — about 20 times as many as it has in a typical year.
Another cross will be planted in front of City Hall by activists commemorating homicide victims, and another candle will be lit at a year-end vigil in the city.
Camden is a city of about 77,000 that regularly ranks as one of the nation’s poorest and most violent — even in years with relatively few homicides.
It has been a tough time in the business of policing the city. In January 2011, almost half the police force was laid off in a budget crunch.
The Camden County government is taking applications for a new police force it’s forming to replace the city’s department so more officers can patrol the streets.
The new force is expected to have lower per-officer expenses because more officers will start at the low end of the pay scale, and old contractual obligations, such as shift differentials, can be avoided. It is not clear when the officers will be hired.
This week, city officials have pushed for a surge in officers from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to work in the city.
The group planting the crosses believes police are not the answer. The Rev. Jeff Putthoff, a Roman Catholic priest who is an organizer of the anti-violence group Stop the Trauma on People in Camden, said earlier this week that he has come to see Camden as a place where most people are traumatized by living in a city that functions much like a war zone.
He said that the city does not merely need more police, jobs or better housing opportunities to break the cycle of violence. Its residents need help working through the violence and stress they endure, he said.
The city was the subject of a massive revitalization effort a decade ago that has led to expansions of its university and hospital campuses. But so far, the hoped-for private development has not followed, and amid a sluggish national economy, the problems of crime and poverty have only deepened.