Homicide

Murder rate drops dramatically in Camden during 1st full year with new police force

In this Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014 photo, Carmen Marquez watches as Sister Helen Cole leads a vigil for the 32 murder victims in 2014, at Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Camden, N.J. Marquez's husband, Kenny Moultrie, was among the victims who were being remembered. (AP Photo/Geoff Mulvihill)

In this Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014 photo, Carmen Marquez watches as Sister Helen Cole leads a vigil for the 32 murder victims in 2014, at Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Camden, N.J. Marquez's husband, Kenny Moultrie, was among the victims who were being remembered. (AP Photo/Geoff Mulvihill)  (The Associated Press)

The number of murders in Camden has dropped by more than 50 percent since 2012, a decline credited largely to an increased police presence and smart tactics.

The 32 slayings in 2014 are still a high number for a city of 77,000. The homicide rate in Camden for 2014 was about nine times the national rate.

But many residents say the city feels much safer than it did two years ago when there were a record 67 slayings in the city.

In 2013, the city police force was dissolved and replaced by a new county-government run forces. Without union contracts, the cost per officer is lower and there are far more police on the street now.