It's a unique trio battling the bad guys. A lot has been going on in the Fisher Avenue/Haskell Avenue area. Behind closed doors and out in the open the area is known for the many drug deals that go on along with prostitution. But what residents don't realize is whose monitoring their activities.
Deborah Hinkel uses this motto, “Stop crime and we also believe in start caring about neighborhood." As President of her Neighborhood Association and a landlord in the area Deborah is constantly on patrol. She says, "I had this one prostitute that said I've worked the streets for 8 years. Well I think you were told that last week Merchants Police took care of her. I think she knows we're serious." Deborah and four other landlords split the bill for Merchants Police who is a private security company out monitoring complexes 24-7 and can make arrests.
Rockford Police Officer Jason Mallo states, "They're able to enforce that on behalf of the landlords and when they have a situation or when someone violates a crime they'll contact Rockford Police."
In the time 23 News was in the 500 block of Fisher Avenue two people were caught trespassing and were then arrested. Merchants Police has a list of people that are banned from certain properties. It’s a hand off from Merchants Police to Rockford Police with residents standing by watching the changes.
Apartment Manager for Oblon Enterprises tells 23 News, “Since Merchants Police and Rockford Police have had a strong presence in the area a lot of things have changed. A lot of the bad elements are leaving on their own. The ones that aren't are being arrested."
Deborah agrees. During our interview she states, "You're hearing sirens but they're not in our neighborhood they're in a surrounding neighborhood."
Residents tell 23 News that more people are getting involved in the Neighborhood Watch program. They want to see more lights in the area and possibly even cameras monitoring activity. Landlords say they plan on keeping Merchants Police on board for many more months to come. Similar efforts are going on in another community Wednesday night. Renters along Riverside are meeting with Rockford Police, Merchants Police and landlords to figure out the best way to work together.