CAMDEN, NJ — Capt. Gabriel Rodriguez, who has served as a city officer for roughly 18 years, will become the Camden County Police Department’s (CCPD) first Hispanic chief.
Edwin Figueroa, of Puerto Rican descent like Rodriguez, held the position of chief for two and a half years ending October 2005, back when the department was still the Camden City Police Department - prior to the county takeover in 2013. Figueroa currently works as the public safety director in Woodlynne.
An East Camden native with family currently in Centerville and Cramer Hill, Rodriguez, 37, will take the reins of the force starting Jan. 1, 2021. Chief Joe Wysocki announced he would retire Tuesday morning, after taking over for Scott Thomson in August 2019.
“In the beginning when we transitioned from the Camden City Police Department to the Camden County Police Department, they brought over six detectives to start building that new agency. I was one of those six officers….I have put a lot of blood, sweat and tears to make sure that we did this right because the city deserves the best type of police department,” Rodriguez told TAPinto Camden on Tuesday while attending a food distribution event at Whitman Park.
Rodriguez graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University with a bachelor’s degree in science and individualized studies. He has worked in the city as a police officer since January 2003 in various iterations including for the Community Policing Unit, Violent Crimes Task Force and Strategic Multi-Agency Shooting and Homicide (SMASH) Team.
“El tiene la calidad y el passion para hacer el trabajo,” said Mayor Frank Moran, “He has the quality and the passion to do the job. It’s not only that he’s Latino, but we’re 100% with [Capt. Rodriguez] to ensure that the future of the city keeps moving forward.”
When Chief Wysocki transitions out of the role he will enter the private sector as the Vice President of Lawmen Supply - a Connecticut-based company that provides equipment to public safety officers and first responders. Wysocki said he will be based out of the Pennsauken office.
“When I was a little kid I always wanted to become a police officer, I wanted to follow my father's footsteps and I did that. I got hired and I came in, " Wysocki said." And I always had the mindset that I was going to do 30 years in policing. Now I'm in my 30th year and...2020 [has] been one of the most challenging things I've ever gone through in my career - with the pandemic and the racial unrest that's happening around the country.”
Wysocki called Rodriguez “one of the biggest assets” the city has.
“I think the department's gonna be in good hands,” he said, pointing to Rodriguez’s plans to continue building relationships in the community.