Violent Crime Was Down In Rockford In 2017

Feb 1, 2018

There were 18 murders in 2017 compared with 26 murders in 2016. Other violent crimes, auto thefts, and property crimes also were down from the year before.

Still, Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara and Police Chief Dan O'Shea think more can be done and want community engagement to be the focus for prevention this year.

Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara announces crime statistics for 2017 with Police Chief Dan O'Shea and Lt. Kurt Whisenand
Credit Jenna Dooley

"Obviously, we don't have a banner behind us saying it's 'mission accomplished,' McNamara said. "It is far from that, but I do think we are making great strides."

Chief O'Shea credits community support for those improvements.

"I firmly believe that the efforts of the officers and the detectives to be out in the community are paying off because we have the community that's building bridges or reaching out and trusting us," O'Shea said.

While major offenses decreased, the two say the number of drug seizures and guns recovered remains too high.

An area where police efforts evolved was investigations. Lt. Kurt Whisenand says that was due, in part, to returning to a more centralized structure of solving crimes.

"The geographic policing model works really well for patrol, but we learned relatively quickly that it didn't work for investigations," Whisenand said. "Having the detectives specialized and concentrating on one type of crime really helped."

He said the biggest factor was community input to help solve crimes.

Part of that community involvement includes organized neighborhood groups. Becky Lichty, a representative with the Old Rockford College Historic District neighborhood group, says residents started a program called, "Lessons From Our Lawnchairs."

"If we feel that there is a hotspot in our neighborhood, we will get a group of neighbors together and go and sit there and not say anything," Lichty said. "We are very non-confrontational but just let people know they are being watched. We have a police officer with us generally when we do that also."