Each time they move in and temporarily close a business linked to crime, Rockford's legal team is sending a message. "We won't stand pat and watch this city deteriorate, it's all about orderly neighborhoods, and orderly neighborhoods means that businesses are not being corrupted by illegal businesses and becoming nuisances, and by doing it in a safe, timely matter," Assistant city attorney Jennifer Cacciapaglia said.
Assistant City Attorney Jennifer Cacciapalgia praises the efforts at two businesses shut down and then reopened in recent weeks, Al-Mart grocery store on West State Street, and South Main Food and Liquor. Residents near Al-mart say a larger police presence and security cameras are zooming out drug deals they admit were frequent in the past.
"Al-Mart continues to go really well. They continue to be what I call a model business in the city. We couldn't be happier with Al-Mart," Cacciapaglia said. Cacciapaglia wouldn't specify other targeted areas, but promised strong enforcement wherever drugs, gangs and noise lurk.
"We have very good people living here, and they deserve better and this administration is going to do what it can to make sure they understand that and have better," Cacciapaglia said.
And although police tape, revoked licenses and temporary shutdowns are the last resort, Cacciapalgia pleads for nearby residents to step up and contact police when trouble pops up.
"If an illegal business is co-opting your legal business, we need you to work with us to abate the nuisance and work together to come up with a solution, because if you don't it will lead to legal action and we don't want that," Cacciapaglia said.
The crackdown has been cleaning up problem spots, and providing residents new hope for a safer city.