After 4 homicides in 2 months, NJ mayor doesn’t want media ‘focusing on negatives’
PLAINFIELD— There have been four homicides in the city over the past two months, but Mayor Adrian Mapp says people should stop "focusing on the negatives."
"I am not focusing on the negatives," Mapp said. "There are murders in every city in New Jersey."
Last week alone, two men were fatally shot in the span of two days: Hakeem Young, 32, and Willie Lee Major, 37, who police said was an innocent bystander.
Weeks earlier, on May 8, 23-year-old Shavaun Green was shot and killed while driving on West 2nd Street. And a month earlier, Joshua Hartsfield, who had previously served time for manslaughter, was fatally shot. He was 29.
No arrests have been made in these shootings and the Union County Prosecutor's Office is still asking the public for information into the crimes.
Plainfield has struggled more than some of its more suburban neighboring municipalities in dealing with gang violence and crime. But Mapp says violent crime such as this occurs in cities like Clark and Cranford, yet people more often focus on crime in Plainfield.
"Often times, people seem to focus only on the negatives when it comes to Plainfield, which is never done when it happens in Clark and Scotch Plains and Cranford," Mapp said.
However, both Cranford and Clark saw zero homicides in 2014 and 2015, according to the State Police Uniform Crime Report. Compare this to Plainfield, where the city of 51,000 people saw three homicides in 2015 and four in 2014.
Councilwoman Tracey Brown says Mapp's response to the homicides is not constructive.
"I definitely don't think the homicides in Plainfield should be ignored. Our public safety director is doing a very good job, but we need more resources in terms of community policing. By no means should you ignore the four homicides in Plainfield in two months," said Brown, who this morning eulogized Willie Lee Major, an innocent bystander who was fatally shot in the city last week.
To reduce the amount of violent crime over the summer, Brown said the city needs to invest in keeping young people off the streets while school is not in session. She said the city is doing this by producing jobs for young people and creating more youth activities.
Since he took office, Mapp said violent crime has fallen by 17 percent, calling it "a wonderful thing."
Plainfield has taken steps to reduce violent crime with an initiative called "Light up the City." The initiative involves placing cameras across the city, utilizing a gunshot detection system, putting more cops on the streets and employing more police officers, he said.
"That’s the story we should be focusing on — the wonderful things happening in a city like Plainfield," Mapp said. "I’m accentuating the positives and not the negatives that I’ve managed to address in a direct way."