Rockford
6:30 am
Wed May 29, 2013

Federal Lawmakers Urge Rockford Leaders To Work Together On Crime

(Left) Rep. Cheri Bustos (Center) U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (Right) Winnebago State's Attorney Joe Bruscato
Credit Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin and Congresswoman Cheri Bustos visit Rockford to assess surge in criminal activity

Rockford-area officials are trying to get on the same page to fight crime. They met with lawmakers this week to discuss the scope of the problem.

"We can't continually keep arresting people because if arresting alone would solve the problem, we wouldn't have a crime problem. We have to look at evidence-based programs around the country." -Rockford Police Chief Chet Epperson

Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey says one of the first steps to come out of the meeting is to look at what other communities are doing to prevent crime, including the "Don't Shoot" program in Peoria.

"We've got to be very strategic in how we deploy our resources. It's not that we don't cooperate. Cooperation is happening all day, but as one member of the discussion mentioned, gone are the days when we had enough resources that we can take a "shotgun" approach. We need a "rifle" approach. We need to be identifying through intelligence-sharing who we need to go after and then deploying our resources to match those goals and then meeting  and holding one another accountable." -Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey

Rep. Cheri Bustos agrees multiple groups needs to come together to solve the perception of crime in the

Rockford Police Chief Chet Epperson and Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey
Credit Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

city and county:

"Any differences that might have existed in the past need to go away. The people of this community deserve that. Everybody deserves to feel safe in their own homes and they deserve to feel safe when they are walking to their homes." -Rep. Cheri Bustos

Durbin says he will meet with U.S. Attorney nominee Zachary Fardon. If confirmed, he wants Fardon to prioritize the prosecution of violent offenders in Rockford and Chicago.

"The fact that Rockford is as close as it is to the Chicago metropolitan area  is a blessing and a curse. The blessing, of course, is economic opportunity. The curse: the problems of Chicago becomes the problems of northern Illinois and we need to work on a coordinated basis to deal with all of them." -U.S. Senator Dick Durbin

Other participants included Winnebago County Chairman Scott Christiansen and Winnebago County State's Attorney Joe Bruscato.