Thanks to some guidance from the Rockford police department, community activist Deborah Weaver now has the know-how to recognize and report criminal behavior in her neighborhood.
"We are not giving up. We will not stop. We will not stop watching, we will not stop calling," says Weaver.
Weaver heads up the neighborhood association in Rockford's Coronado/Haskel area, a hotspot for crime frequently visited by police over the past month. Investigators value neighborhood tipsters like Weaver. She called the police to report a possible drug deal going on outside her window just last week.
"Within five minutes, a black car pulls up and it's the chief. I went over and talked to him and he said, yeah, I figured I'd just take my lunch right here and the gentlemen of course all took off," says Weaver.
Weaver says the increased efforts of police and community members alike are working wonders to clean up her neighborhood. Now she's taking her activism city-wide as vice president of the new organization Neighborhood Network.
The group's president Margie Veitch explains the goal: "Starting a dialogue about what is a healthy neighborhood. What would we like to see in our neighborhoods?"
Neighborhood Network officially launches June 28th. It will connect individual neighborhood groups and work on ways to improve safety as well as social connection and beautification.
Veitch hopes to help establish a neighborhood association in every corner of Rockford to strengthen our city from the ground up.
"That's ultimately what we're here for, to enhance ultimately our city and surroundings and doing so one neighborhood at a time," says Veitch.
Police have increased patrols in the Haskel/Coronado area. They've also improved lighting by trimming back trees and bushes. They've made several arrests in the area over the past month, especially of drug dealers. Five small-time dealers were initially given a second chance to change their lives and take probation instead of jail. Finally, community members have gotten involved by calling police and holding marches. Weaver is leading another march around the Haskel/Coronado neighborhood on Tuesday June 26th. You can reach her at 815-968-2205 to learn how to join her.
Neighborhood Network's launch will be Thursday June 28th from 6-8 P.M. at Beattie Playground. Mayor Morissey will be speaking and there will be plenty of food and games. All are welcome. Call Lori Gustafson at 815-963-0268 for more information or to volunteer with the group.