For years many eyes have been monitoring events at the BP Amoco Station on Auburn Street. The City of Rockford finally had enough and the business closed for 10 days. On Monday it looked like business as usual but it wasn’t.
In order for the BP Gas station to reopen, owners hade to make some drastic changes. Certain people are not allowed on the property. The station will only be open from 5 a.m. to midnight and not around the clock like in the past, but the biggest difference might come from Merchants Police.
Officer Larry Hodges says, "We're here to make sure that owners maintain compliance and that there's no one on the property playing loud music, hanging out, jumping from car to car without being here for long time because it insinuates the fact that they could possibly be out here and probably are out here selling drugs."
Michael Jones lives in the area and says, "I'm glad to see some security around here cause there's been a lot of gang activity and drive-by shootings. I'm just glad to see something’s really happening around here."
Dlano Thomas agrees. He states, "I guess it's good as long as there's no more killing around here. They do what they have to do."
Every Merchants Police officer is armed. They have the authority to make arrests and perform search and seizures. If a situation arises, Merchants Police don't think twice about stepping in and weeding out the trouble makers.
Officer Hodges tells 23 News, “It's the gangs that are looking for territory to branch out and grab more territory for themselves because face it that's how they make money."
But the deals won't be going on when these officers are present. The only game they're willing to play is ‘let's make a connection.’ It basically comes down to ‘I give you respect in order to get respect.’
The Sunrise Motel on 11th Street in Rockford was shut down for similar reasons and was also scheduled to re-open Monday but did not. The Fire Department did not give the final approval and the business is also having mechanical and electrical problems.