Violence crackdown at Plainfield housing complexes

May 26, 2010 4:02:23 PM PDT
A wave of gang violence at some public housing projects in northern New Jersey has prompted a radical crackdown. Now fewer visitors will be allowed to come and go from the complexes.

Nearly a dozen shootings on the west side of Plainfield in the past 6 weeks, have left at least 7 people injured.

It's a new wave of violence in a city that saw its murder rate drop to just 2 last year.

The recent shootings spike is blamed on a Blood against Blood turf war, and now police are cracking down.

"We have about 20 arrest warrants. We're getting them in, and I think this is going to make a big difference," said Martin Hellwig, the Plainfield Public Safety Director.

The heavy show of force includes a rolling command center planted smack in the middle of the trouble zone, and constant patrols that are both rolling and on foot.

It's helping neighbors feel safe to be outdoors.

"I feel safer when I can see them, I like that," said resident Christine Spencer.

The violence now threatens to pull the vital summer youth program out of the community.

"We hire the kids, and they do clean up, but if they keep shooting, we can't have our kids out here," said Joanne Hollis, the Youth Program Director.

Police say the arrests, their presence, and even getting gangs to resolve their differences is working.

"We're getting the community involved, so I believe we're on the right path," Hellwig said.

It remains unclear whether the youth program will survive.

However, the command center and the foot patrols will be in Plainfield throughout the summer, and into the fall.