A Rockford business has to overcome obstacles like prostitution, drugs and vandalism on a daily basis. Those are not uncommon situations for workers at one Rockford business.
Nothing surprises Phillips 66 Manager Zelma Hall anymore. This location at 11th street and 15th Avenue has turned into a safe haven for criminal activity. Manager Zelma Phillips says, "I was here Saturday night and there was a guy in the front seat then 2 heads pop in the backseat. So it's not too hard to guess what they were doing because she wasn't clothed."
A year and a half ago the Rockford Police department told Phillips 66 to put up no loitering signs. But the prostitution and drug deals have returned. Zelma said, "They were gone for awhile but they are all back again. Nobody wants to do another about it."
There is also a lack of respect for the business. Monday night someone ran into this back fence. Hall says she calls the police frequently to come out and make arrests but she says they never show up.
Deputy Chief Theo Glover with the Rockford Police departments tells 23 News, "Our calls are prioritized and there may be more serious calls that we have to get to before prostitution. We may not get their immediately but we will get there."
And they did we were there when Sgt. John Pozzi with the bike unit came by to investigate.
Rockford police say they about the problems on 11th Street. There have been numerous prostitution stings but the regular names and faces return. Sgt. Pozzi says, "We send them away for a period of time and as soon as we get that group sent away we get a whole new batch. It cycles right back on the street."
Rockford Police and the Winnebago County State's Attorney's office have teamed up. Community prosecutors can elevate a prostitution charge to a felony for repeat offenders. That means one to three years behind bars. Patrick Yarbrough says, "The State's Attorney's office and the Rockford Police have put more emphasis on enforcing the law and that people realize prostitution is a serious crime." Deputy Chief Theo Glover went on to say, "It lets us know that the revolving door does not continue to go round and round."
And hopefully the word on the street will be that police are focused on enforcement and arrests will be made. Rockford police also urge businesses to get rid of outside pay phones. That is the main line of communication for drug dealers.