ROCKFORD (WIFR) – Rockford’s former abortion clinic could soon house a section of the city’s police department. Right now, officers are eying the building as a new location for a geopolicing station.
The old Turner School on Broadway has sat empty for more than two years. The building that last housed an abortion clinic is now closed down, but it might not stay that way for long. The city of Rockford is considering using the 25,000 square foot facility for its district 2 geopolicing headquarters.
“I think there’s a lot of reasons. Even the perception if nothing else for people and businesses in the area that there’s a police presence there.”
Some say, police presence along Broadway is desperately needed. The neighborhood’s high crime rate is one of the main reasons the city is considering the former school as a geopolicing site.
“The closer you can get to it, if it’s a good side, I would imagine it would be high on the list.”
Whatever building the city chooses for its district headquarters needs to meet certain criteria. Officers want it in an area with a high concentration of calls for service, violent crime and the population center. The building also needs to have enough room for officers to work and have a community room along with ample room for parking.
One more major requirement aldermen are concerned with is cost.
“So you balance the location, balance with starting to make it happen, balance with funds that are available to make it a case that this is good for the city of Rockford and I think it’s a positive.
The city is also considering two other sites for District 2 – Fran Kral car dealership on East State and an unoccupied building on 7th Street.
Some businesses owners in the Broadway corridor are excited about the possibility of having a police station right down the street, considering the area has a reputation for drugs and prostitution.
Bobby Dahlberg, the owner of Bobby’s Store says he thinks having a station in the area will make a big difference in crime in the area. He says ever since the city turned off the streetlights in front of his store last year, crime has been rampant along Broadway.
Bobby's Store is open only during the day and closes at 6:00 every night because Dahlberg says it’s not safe for him or his customers after dark. He’s been on Broadway for more than 2 decades and says although the police constantly patrol the area it’s not enough.
"I've got a lot of riff-raff that comes down here and I just really believe that they'd be a little more apt to come down here knowing the police station is right across the street,” says Dahlberg.
Dahlberg says if the police station sets up shop across the street, he’ll stay open later.
We did hear from the owner of the old school, Wayne Webster. He says he’d be happy to sell the building to the city. Otherwise he’ll look for another company to fill the space.