Letter to the Editor: James Camilli

Longtime township resident questions the nature of community policing.

To the Editor, 

Regarding your article on retired Cherry Hill Police Chief William “Bud” Monaghan, I’d like to offer a less rosy perspective. 

I’ve been a resident of this township for more than four decades, and have a diploma in security and police science. Generally, I’d say that our police here suffer from all the same problems as our police nationally do: namely, an over-zealousness for law-enforcement coupled with an under-appreciation of the democratic and revolutionary principles America was founded on.

For example, I recently talked with a Cherry Hill officer and found him to be wanting regarding knowledge of the Ninth Amendment, which some say is the most important of our Bill of Rights. And on YouTube, you’ll find many videos of police nationally who, when quizzed on the spot, show an amazing ignorance of a citizen’s Constitutional rights. This should not be. 

Another point is that Cherry Hill uses the “community policing” model, but textbooks say there are problems with this model. For one thing, cops can get too chummy with local residents, leading to a “gated community” situation where the police function more like glorified security guards protecting a neighbor’s property, rather than like proper police in the traditional sense. 

But a sure cure for both of the above is to reacquaint our police with America’s founding principles. These are the Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence, Mayflower Compact, etc. And don’t forget the amazingly prophetic “City Upon A Hill” speech by John Winthrop, along with the post-Civil War “American’s Creed.” 

These make great and inspiring reading not just for the police but for everyone else too, including your kids. Remember; the U.S. was not founded as a police state – exactly the opposite!

Sincerely,

James Camilli, 

Cherry Hill, N.J.