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Anne Milgram: A City Invincible

Former New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram talks about thoughtful and progressive policing, including in Camden—a city that was in turmoil.

About this episode:

Anne Milgram grew up in East Brunswick, New Jersey, the daughter of a college professor and an engineer. But other relatives – including her grandfather who was a New Jersey police chief – were in law enforcement, and so Anne thought of law enforcement as the family business. Though she was to spend much of her adult life in that family business, she was not particularly interested in it growing up.

After attending Rutgers University and New York University Law School, a clerkship with a prominent federal judge in Trenton opened her eyes to life in the courtroom. As Anne will tell you, that experience changed her journey.

After her clerkship, she worked as a local prosecutor in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office for the legendary Robert Morganthau and then joined the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice, as a federal prosecutor investigating hate crimes and sex trafficking cases.

At the age of 36, Anne’s career took a remarkable turn when the Governor of New Jersey appointed her to be that state’s Attorney General. That made her the second-youngest Attorney General in the United States, the second-youngest Attorney General in New Jersey history, and the state’s chief law enforcement officer with a staff of more than 9,000 state employees. And, because a prior Attorney General had assumed control of the Camden Police Department, she was also in charge of the police force of what she described as one of the most violent places on earth.

Anne is a remarkably thoughtful and intelligent woman. The steps she took to reform the Camden police department – something she did with a talented and caring police chief she hired – are a model for enlightened and progressive policing.

Emblazoned on a City Hall wall in Camden is a line from the renowned poet (and Camden resident) Walt Whitman: “In a Dream, I Saw a City Invincible.” And what Camden needed was an Attorney General up to the task – passionate, dedicated, brilliant, and …. invincible. That was what they got, in Anne Milgram.

If you have thoughtful feedback on this episode or others, please email us at theoathpodcast@gmail.com.

Find the transcript here.

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