CAMDEN, NJ — Camden County Police Chief Joe Wysocki will retire at the end of 2020 after serving in the top position for just over a year and on the county force for 30 years.
Captain Gabriel Rodriguez will take over as chief when Wysocki retires on Jan. 1, 2021. Rodriguez has been a police officer in Camden for roughly 18 years.
"The men and women of this organization are the lifeblood and primary contributors to everything we have achieved as an agency. I could not be prouder of the tremendous work, risks taken, and sacrifices made by my officers and their families every single day,” Wysocki said in a statement Tuesday. “Nevertheless, I know that none of the department’s success could occur without the help of our community, they have played a pivotal role in the turnaround of this great city. I am looking forward to the next chapter of my life moving forward in private industry and continuing to give back to the city that has given me so much.”
Wysocki took over from Chief Scott Thomson in August 2019, after serving as second in command for over three years.
Camden City gained national attention this year for its de-escalation tactics - most prominently after Wysocki and city officers joined residents and clergy in a Black Lives Matter protest following the killing of George Floyd. Wysocki's time on the Camden County Police Department (CCPD) as chief has also included assisting in the county's COVID-19 response efforts, responding to the surge of addiction-related deaths in the city and helping to instill more virtual training to prevent loss of life.
"Everyone who lives in, works in, or cares about the city of Camden owes Chief Wysocki their thanks and deep gratitude," said Freeholder Director Lou Cappelli. "People know that statistics only tell part of Camden's story, but the real evidence of Joe’s impact is the fact that children are back playing in Camden's streets and there's a new spirit of cooperation between the police and the community. He’s kept pushing the limits in de-escalation and training and every day came to the police administration building to make the city a safer place."
Wysocki was part of the force as it transitioned out of city control in 2013.
He also served on the FBI’s Camden Violent Crimes Task Force Special Investigations Unit and was the supervisor of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas, (HIDTA) Long-Term Investigation Unit. Later, he commanded Internal Affairs from 2009 through 2015, "during which time he directly shaped the transformation of the Department’s culture of policing and accountability," county officials said.
“Joe has a heart of gold and has contributed significantly in making Camden a safer place to live and work,” said Sister Helen Cole, of Guadalupe Family Services. “His imprint will be felt for years to come in the countless kids that have gone through Project Guardian and the work he has done to support positive initiatives throughout the city.”
Executive Director of the Police Executive Research Forum, Chuck Wexler, said "Joe has provided a steady hand in what has become one of the most challenging periods of time for law enforcement in modern history."