"Too many guns, too many gangs and too many drugs in the city of Rockford," says Rockford Police Chief Chet Epperson.
Chief Epperson says, bottom line, the city's crime rate is unacceptable.
"It's hurts economic growth; it hurts quality of life. It hurts individuals who may want to bring families to Rockford. No one wants to go where there's decay, where there's blight and there's crime," says Epperson.
FBI statistics released this week show Rockford's overall crime rate is down by 5.17 percent. Property crime, burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft have taken a dip, but robberies, aggravated assault and murders are up. There were 19 murders in 2005 compared to eight in 04. Epperson says attacking the smaller problems is the first step in bringing down violent crime.
"I'm a firm believer in the empirical evidence that if you take care of the small problems, the prostitution, the littering, the loitering, the public drinking and the curfew, those don't lead to big issues. It's been done in cities across the country, Indianapolis, Miami, New York, and that's certainly what we're going to focus on here in Rockford," says Epperson.
And Epperson says making Rockford safer must be a community effort.
"The police alone can't solve this problem. I need citizens, I need community groups, whether it be Ceasefire, the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, the Park District, everybody has to collaborate together to help us out with this crime problem. Police alone can't do it," says Epperson.