Police departments nation-wide are increasing their commitment to community policing in hopes of reducing crime. It’s a strategy that involves developing relationships between neighborhoods and individual officers. 

Brandon Dillard is one of nine officers in the community services unit. He says unlike other patrol officers, his job is aimed at getting long-term results.

Federal housing officials visited Rockford yesterday to remind city leaders they are obligated to provide fair housing for residents. 

The meeting was prompted by concerns from regional representatives of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Last month, a developer withdrew plans to build a 65 apartment unit on Rockford’s east side, where residents of a west side public housing development could move. Some neighbors strongly opposed the plan, causing developer Gorman and Company to pull the proposal: Gorman is expected to rework and resubmit the plan to the city soon.

Storm Left 1,500 Without Power In Rockford

Aug 19, 2015
Flickr user Danny Hahn / "Rain" (CC BY 2.0)

Yesterday's storms left more than 1,500 Rockford residents without power at some point -- but most of the damage has already been fixed.

George Gaulrapp -- external affairs manager for ComEd -- says even when 291 people were still without power early yesterday, workers were able to resolve that outage in less than two hours with the help of recent system upgrades and power transfer devices. 

Gaulrapp says, if it weren't for those upgrades, ComEd wouldn't have been able to respond as quickly as they did.  

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

A Rockford center serving people with chronic mental illness will stay open…for now. The Jubilee Center in downtown Rockford was slated to close this week after thirty years because of state funding problems. But Emanuel Episcopal Church came through with a 15-thousand dollar grant to keep it open until state funding is approved.  Baldemar Gallegos is the center’s site coordinator. He says a lot of people count on the Jubilee Center and its services.

Context - Safe Neighborhoods, Safe City: Changing Roles of Police and Community
Maria Boynton

There’s been a lot of news about strained relationships between police officers and the citizens they serve.   Police officials say they’re making changes to improve relations and build trust within the community but critics claim not enough is being done.

WNIJ's public forum, “Context - Safe Neighborhoods, Safe City: Changing Roles of Police and Community,” was held Thursday, August 27, 2015, at the Kresge Hall in the Riverfront Museum Park, in Rockford.

WNIJ Reporter Sue Stephens moderated the Context panel. Guests were:

Local Schools Receive Fitness Centers

Aug 3, 2015

Lincoln Middle School in Rockford is one of just three winning schools that will receive a state-of-the-art Live Positively Fitness Center.

The National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils is supported by Governor Bruce Rauner and fitness icon Jake Steinfeld.

The Foundation provides Live Positively Fitness Centers that are fully funded through public and private partnerships with companies like Coca-Cola, Anthem Foundation and Nike. The National Foundation's goal is to build a nation of the fittest, healthiest kids in the world.

Rockford Police Department

Rockford Police are looking for ways to connect with their residents.

They’re hosting many block parties this summer, coordinated by the Police Department and United Way.

Lt. Carla Redd is the Supervisor of the Investigative Services of Rockford Police Department. She says this is an idea that has resurfaced.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Hundreds of people showed up last night for a brainstorming session about how to make Rockford a better community. Transform Rockford held its first strategy planning meeting for the public: they hope to have a detailed plan by early next year to make the Rockford a “top 25 community” by 2025.

Visitors to the event held at the YMCA in Rockford stopped by idea stations around the gym to talk with lead volunteers about specific interest areas:

Rockford Police Department

Two Rockford police officers are patrolling the streets again after being on administrative duty for three months.

Nicholas Alejo and Andrew Seale were cleared of any wrongdoing after shooting an armed suspect in the leg during a March 30 incident. Both returned to work Sunday.

The Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s office says the force used against Joshua Schweig was warranted. State's Attorney Joe Bruscato determined no criminal charges against the officers are necessary.

One of Rockford’s top tourist attractions turns ten this weekend. Burpee Museum of Natural History is holding a birthday party for “Jane,” the world’s most complete juvenile T-Rex.