ROCKFORD (WIFR0 – A plan to strengthen the relationship between Rockford Police Officers and our community seems to be working in the Broadway area. The department is crediting added patrols for a dramatic drop in crime.
Every summer Rockford Police walk up and down the Broadway corridor checking in with local business owners and keeping panhandlers away. Rockford Police plan on re-starting those patrols soon and this year, for the first time in more than two years, officers will also be on bike, which is welcome news for many business owners.
"They can't see really what’s going on down here sometimes. Things don't happen consistently and all the time but things do happen and I think the police would be more aware if they had a closer communication or contact with the people trying to do business down here,” said Mattie’s Four Seasons owner, Pearl Hawks.
Since September, Rockford Police have stepped up patrols in the Broadway Corridor which stretches from Kishwaukee to 11th Street. Officers say that added presence is paying off. The Department reports a 54% drop in crime compared to this time last year. Many who live in work in the area say they have noticed.
"People feel safer because there's police around and they do come by on occasion just to make sure everything is good to go, no panhandlers nothing like that. I feel safe right now,” said Zumque Thrift Store owner Calvin Jones.
Just this week, officers stopped 18 cars during a saturation patrol, arrested four people, and confiscated a gun all in an hour and a half.
The Police Department is planning a series of meetings with residents, business owners, and local clergy to get them more involved in fighting crime. Those will likely begin in April.