Local Council Members React to Violent Start to 2017
About 130 service calls in first three hours of the New Year
January 02, 2017
As bad as 2016 was for violent crime, 2017 is off to an even worse start.
130 for service in the first three hours of the New Year.
The worst being a shooting at the Cliffbreakers hotel that has left one dead and three wounded. One, a 27-year-old man, still in critical condition.
"It's very disturbing, it's upsetting, whatever we're doing we need to do much greater, much more," said 7th Ward Alderwoman Ann Thompson-Kelly.
Thompson-Kelly upset at a cycle of violence which appears to be getting worse.
"It's not just New Years Eve or New Years Day, it's ongoing," said Thompson-Kelly.
Alderman and mayoral candidate Tom McNamara says rising violent crime has stretched the police force too thin.
"We need more officers on the ground," said McNamara. "Over the last four years we've been able to increase that since I've been on council from 285 officers to 297. But, I believe we need in the range of 310-330."
But...Thompson-Kelly says that it's not just a "police issue."
"We can't just arrest our way out of it, we need to work more closely with the residents of the community as well as housing and jobs, human services with domestic violence," said Thompson-Kelly. "It's a combination of a lot of things, it's not just one thing."
McNamara says that providing officers with newer technologies like license plate readers, more cameras in high-crime areas; connecting them with systems like "ShotSpotter," a system that will allow police to detect gunshots could help.
"I believe crime is our number one concern in Rockford, we need to be pushing as many resources as we can into our police department as well as support our officers as much as we can," said McNamara.
He says that city council is still in the last 4-6 weeks of budget discussions before any of that can happen.
Thompson-Kelly reminds residents that a small criminal element can do a lot of damage to the community.
"It's only one percent of Rockford, it's not Rockford as a whole and we need to address that one percent," said Thompson-Kelly.