"We are here this evening because we care ...We are here because we love our children and we love each other. We love this city of Plainfield ... we are here because we want to develop solutions."
--Mayor Adrian O. Mapp
Residents crowded the rotunda of City Hall Friday for a rally on public safety. The city suffered six homicides in recent weeks and the nation has been shocked this week by .two police shootings of black men and the sniper killing of five police officers.
With the clearing of afternoon storms. the rally was moved outside.
Assemblyman Gerald Green (left), city officials and clergy assembled in front of City Hall.
Without detailed references to the local and national shootings, Mapp said,"We feel the pain of lives lost" before talking about solutions and strategies for "a healthier, safer Plainfield."
With his wife Amelia at his side, Mapp said of the victims of gun violence, "All these deaths are unnecessary."
Over almost half an hour, Mapp reviewed crime reduction strategies, programs to engage young people, advances in goals for employment and education and the need to collaborate on solutions.
Anti-crime strategies include daily real-time analysis of incidents and crimes, rapid deployment, division-wide community policing, "intelligence-led" and problem-solving policing, all of which represent "a new management and organizational philosophy," Mapp said.
Mapp said police raids over the past two years resulted in the removal of 105 guns from the street. Fifteen new officers been hired and two more will begin academy training this month. All are Plainfield residents. "We want to make sure that the officers you see patrolling your neighborhoods are people you know and trust," Mapp said.
"Since 2014 when my administration introduced these new policing strategies, we have seen a drop of 22 percent in violent crime. Plainfield is safer today than it was 30 months ago when I took office," Mapp said.
He described new daily walking patrols, programs to strengthen ties between police and youth including mentoring for 50 young people and PBA community cookouts in all four wards.
Mapp called jobs "a large part of the solution" and talked about job fairs as well as summer youth employment for 170 young people and 20 adults,
The Plainfield Youth Council has been revived and will provide "a direct line of communication between the youth of Plainfield and my administration and will provide leadership opportunities for our teenage citizens," Mapp said.
Other plans include a youth summit, funding for qualified students at Union County College, starter funds and financial literacy education for young children "to help break the cycle of poverty and violence." Public pools are open until 6 p.m. and children receive breakfast and lunch at pools, he said. City parks are open every day with numerous activities sponsored by the Recreation Division.
"We will continue to spend time and resources on Plainfield's youth" to find ways to engage them and keep them off the streets, Mapp said.
Mapp pledged to work tirelessly against crime and for changes to current gun laws. "your safety and happiness are my top priority," he said. He urged any Plainfielders who want to become involved in city commissions, committees and community groups to "please come and see me."
Mapp concluded with a poem by James Patrick Kinney, "The Cold Within," and called on all to "save each other so that in the process we save ourselves."