Crime in Rockford: What's Going On?

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ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- As Rockford Police work to find the people behind a string of murders we're doing some investigating of our own. We’re looking at who's committing these violent crimes, who they're targeting, and how police use that information to catch criminals.

"I could just walk down the street and get shot. It's a scary thing I think about. It's always in the back of my head," William Breedlove said.

William Breedlove is scared. Last week two men were shot and killed right down the street from his house and he says his little sister who was playing outside at the time was almost caught in the crossfire.

"When it was happening my little sister dove on the ground and my mom ran in the house. It was crazy," he said.

Woodlawn Avenue, where that shooting happened is part of this red area where Rockford Police say most violent crime occurs. The danger zone starts on School Street, goes east to Kishwaukee, and south to Harrison Avenue. Four of the seven most recent homicides happened around those dangerous areas.

Chief Chet Epperson says poverty and education are common factors in those neighborhoods. Mamie Tisdale says stopping violence starts with parents.

"Have a school program for them or after school program that way they in the program from eight in the morning until four in the afternoon. You've got children loose running around here on their bicycle unattended and you can see where it's heading to," she said.

As for the people committing these violent crimes – men between the ages of 15 and 50. Chief Epperson says many are familiar with the inside of a jail cell.

Rockford Police are keeping a close eye on parolees through a call in program which launched in March. The department also uses hot spot policing, where officers patrol areas with recent spikes in crime. But Epperson says the community also needs to step up to stop the violence.

"Maybe if the community could help out, how about the cops will be better, no little kid gotta get shot," Breedlove said.

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- A rash of shootings and murders over the past few weeks are keeping Rockford Police very busy and that crime has many of us asking what’s causing the sudden uptick.

According to the Rockford Police Department, major crimes like murders, robbery, and rape, are happening all over the city, not just in one particular area.

Most of the crime is happening from School Street over to Kishwaukee Street, then down to Harrison Avenue. Chief Chet Epperson says most of them involve repeat offenders. He says more than 50% of the people on probation are either the ones committing a violent crime or they’re a victim or a witness. He says another main cause of violent crime is domestic violence.

"Many of these incidents lead into more serious tragedies. Someone either gets shot, sometimes unfortunately someone gets killed. Domestic violence is an ongoing issue in the city of Rockford. We respond to some 8 to 15 domestic violence calls a day,” said Police Chief, Chet Epperson.
Later tonight, we’ll take a closer look at who the victims of violent crime are and if there’s anything we can do to protect ourselves and our neighbors.

The department recently started a parolee call-in program which so far Chief Epperson says ahs been very successful.

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