The Freeport mayor touted decreases in major village crimes at a news conference Thursday, during which he also announced his re-election campaign.
“Freeport is much safer now,” Mayor Robert Kennedy said on the steps of Village Hall with about 50 people behind him, including police officers wearing union sweatshirts; local lawmakers, firefighters and members of the school board.
Kennedy, a Democrat, attributed the drop in crime to several factors, such as an increase of village police officers from 82 to 100, which started in May 2014, and the installation of license plate readers at every entrance to the village in 2015.
According to statistics provided by the village, total major crimes numbered around 1,200 each year between 2007 and 2010. In 2011, that number dropped to 1,088, staying around there until 2014, when the number of total crimes fell to 999.
That number declined further in 2015, to 839. In the first 10 months of this year, the number of major crimes is 697.
Major crimes include murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft.
“We’re looking to push it as low as possible,” Freeport Police Chief Miguel Bermudez said in a telephone interview Thursday afternoon.
Bermudez said police heard a man say over a wiretap that he wouldn’t come to Freeport, a statement the chief believes is due to the license plate readers, cameras that he said form a “ring of steel” around the village.
Bermudez also said crime has gone down in the village and arrests have increased. He attributes both in part to new officers on the streets, helping to close cases and acting as a deterrent to criminals.
The license plate readers have been used to catch 67 wanted people, including an alleged killer, a trio of robbery suspects, a church burglar and, on Thursday morning before the news conference, a man wanted for grand larceny by the State Police, according to village officials.
Kennedy also announced his run for re-election on Thursday, citing the police department’s successes, among other reasons, that persuaded him to run again.
Shawn Randall, president of the Freeport Police Department’s Police Benevolent Association, said Kennedy has supported the village’s police officers and called for his re-election.
Kennedy was elected to the board of trustees in 2009, when he ran on former Democratic Mayor Andrew Hardwick’s ticket. In 2013, Kennedy ousted Hardwick for the job.
The state’s campaign financial disclosure website lists a “Hardwick Team 2017” campaign for Freeport mayor. Hardwick could not be reached for comment Thursday.
The village election will be held on March 21.