Rockford Police begin patrolling RHA properties

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Rockford Police just started doing something this week that they haven't done in eight years.

Every day Officers James Presley and Brandon Dillard are making contacts, talking with people living in Rockford Housing Authority properties. In just their first few days they've talked to dozens of residents, starting to form connections.

"Just within a matter of 15 or 20 minutes of talking to that officer about whatever problem they may have they already felt reassured and comfortable they can always call the officer for any problems," Rockford Police Sgt. Mark Sander, Supervisor for the RHA Police Unit, said.

The unit will be made up of seven officers. A contract between RHA and police to have the regular patrols was passed by city council in November.

"What we've been able to see with the school district, what they're able to achieve in other areas and what they see is a trend and this is something that we are aware is more than just perception and that is where there are police officers we see real safety," Amanda Hamaker, Rockford Housing Authority Chief Operating Officer, said.

Officers Presley and Dillard say so far the feedback is good. As they form more relationships they hope residents will be more comfortable sharing crime tips and problems.

"They have the same officer, the same group of officers they can trust them, they can relate to them and they’re going to call us and provide us information on whatever it may be and talk to us," Sgt. Sander said.

While these patrols have already started, the unit will be fully up and running by March.