Camden Police Director Lanuel J. Ferguson resigned Wednesday, only a month after his appointment by Mayor Dana L. Redd.
The city had not employed a civilian police director since 2009, and the addition of the $100,000-per-year salary to the city's cash-strapped bureaucracy drew immediate criticism.
Ferguson, a former major in the New Jersey State Police, could not be reached for comment. Law enforcement sources said that in recent weeks, he had grown frustrated by the political fight over his appointment.
It was unclear whether his resignation was voluntary.
"We have [Police Chief Scott Thomson], and we have all the confidence in the chief," said Council President Frank Moran, who opposed Ferguson's appointment. "We need to give Scotty Thomson more police officers to patrol the street, not more administrators."
Last month, City Council rejected Ferguson's permanent appointment, but Redd fought to keep him on, hoping to turn community sentiment before Oct. 9, when city rules would have forced Ferguson to step down.
By law, the mayor may appoint an acting department head, but the appointee must be approved by Council within 90 days. Petitions both supporting and opposing Ferguson's appointment had circulated in the city.
The mayor said she hired Ferguson to take over the Police Department's administrative duties, freeing Thomson to spend more time leading police operations on the streets.
The department has grown divided under Thomson, Fraternal Order of Police president John Williamson said.
Ferguson "had visions of moving the Police Department forward, restoring morale in the Police Department, and getting better training for the officers," he said.
Thomson did not return phone calls for comment.
The announcement comes one day after Council agreed to participate in a study with Camden County and the state concerning a county takeover of the city's police force, a process in which Ferguson was to have taken a leading role.
That possibility has drawn anger from the police union and officers, who would face significantly lower salaries and benefits under a new police force. And the county, were it to take over the department, said it would hire less than half of the city's current roster of police.
But a statement from the Mayor's Office indicated that Ferguson's resignation would not affect that process.
"As the city continues to explore the possibility of regionalization, my top concern throughout this process is to ensure the interests of Camden and her residents remain at the forefront," the statement said.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service