Hellwig: Crime is Down
"That's almost unheard of," he said.
Hellwig, who is also the city's police director, displayed a graph showing 2,071 serious crimes in 2005, the year before Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs took office. In 2006, the number climbed to 2,184, but last year the total dropped to 1,856. For the first six months of 2008, the rate is 1,135. (Note: That is 61 percent of the 2007 rate.)
Hellwig presented another graph on shots fired, a tally related to Operation Ceasefire, which investigates treats each shot fired as a potential casualty. The number dropped from 280 in 2006 to 204 last year, and at six months, the 2008 count is 88.
Homicides, an issue in the 2005 defeat of the late former Mayor Albert T. McWilliams, stood at 15 that year. McWilliams lost the June 2005 primary in his bid for a third term, but mounted a general election write-in campaign that Robinson-Briggs countered with campaign fliers pinning the high homicide rate to his administration.
In 2006, there were 10 homicides, Hellwig said, and in 2007, four. The first half of 2008 also produced four, according to the chart.
Hellwig called the drop in crime rates "the result of good, strong, positive leadership."
Even pedestrian fatalities declined from five to one since a big increase in motor vehicles summonses, he said, noting "8,000 summonses to date." The increased enforcement is meant to overturn the perception that drivers suffer few consequences for speeding or other infractions in Plainfield, in contrast to stricter enforcement in neighboring municipalities.
Hellwig, who began his public safety career in 1968, became emotional as he described his successes in Plainfield "in the twilight of my career."
"There has been change, positive change, historic change, because of positive leadership," he said.