Antonio and Jessie Carter enjoy a little playtime outside their apartment at the Blackhawk Housing Complex. Their mom, Tonya Carter, says it's playtime that she didn't always allow. "I had a lot of problems, teenage people trying to beat up on my children," Carter said. But Carter says things are getting better since the arrival of Metro Enforcement, also known as the Merchants Police. They support Rockford Police and were brought in after a rash of shootings at Blackhawk earlier this year. The new private security force started patrolling at Blackhawk in mid-June. Right away, they went after non-residents coming here and causing most of the trouble. "We elimintate that problem by just banning them, issue ban notices and if they come back we'll arrest them," said Larry Hodges with Metro Enforcement. So far, the auxilliary police have banned 93 people from the complex. Of those kicked out, 26 people were subsequenty arrested. Officers are going after residents too...Making sure they aren't violating apartment rules for things like loud music or garbage. Carter says all of the enforcement seems to be working. "Right now we can go and sit out there, we don't have to worry about the chidren being out there. We don't have alot of glass, people breaking bottles," Carter said. And according to this mom, it's providing a much better life for her kids...who can look forward to more cartwheels in their front yard this summer instead of bullets.
Not everyone we spoke to said things are getting better over at Blackhawk. But Hodges and the Rockford Housing Authority are feeling positive about the strides made so far.