PLAINFIELD - The city has a new police director who is a veteran of the force.
Retired Capt. James T. Abney, who served 26 years in the Plainfield Police Division, was recently named police director by Mayor Adrian Mapp. Abney will fill the position that has been vacant since June 2021 when Lisa Burgess resigned. Capt. David Guarino had been serving as acting director.
Mapp's administration undertook a comprehensive search for someone to fill the
position, according to city officials, and several candidates were interviewed.
Abney, a Plainfield resident who retired in June 2021, joined the police division in 1996 and became sergeant in 2005, lieutenant in 2012 and captain in July 2020. He earned his master's degree in administrative science in 2012.
He's worked on the patrol and COP units, the city's Planning Board, and with the Union County Prosecutor's Office Child Advocacy Unit and the Criminal Investigation Bureau.
In 2014 Abney and another Plainfield officer were indicted in connection with allegedly padding their time sheets with overtime and extra duty shifts they apparently never worked. Abney's indictment was later dismissed.
"I am excited about Plainfield's future, and I look forward to working with community stakeholders to ensure each resident has a voice in the direction of the Police Department," Abney said in a statement.
"Traffic enforcement and crime reduction are my main focus over the first 100 days. Over the next few weeks, citizens should see an increased vigilance in the enforcement of traffic laws, with a concentration on speeding in particular," Abney said. "I feel that the men and women of the Plainfield Police Department are the best in the land, and I know that the Mapp Administration wants to provide them with the necessary tools to succeed."
Mapp and Abney have a vision focused on quality of life for all residents by lowering crime rates and reducing police response times by utilizing increased camera surveillance and new technology, as well as nurturing youth through the department's mentoring program and bringing the police complement to 150 officers, city officials said.
"I am very pleased that the team tasked with making this important decision recommended the appointment of James Abney," Mapp said in a statement. "Director James Abney has distinguished himself as a career police officer, and he is a lifelong Plainfield resident. He will ensure that community policing is a priority and that our neighborhoods get the attention they deserve. I am fully confident that our Police Department will move in the right direction and continue to excel under his leadership."
Suzanne Russell is a breaking news reporter for MyCentralJersey.com covering crime, courts and other mayhem. To get unlimited access, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.
This article originally appeared on MyCentralJersey.com: Plainfield NJ new police director looks to tackle traffic, crime