State of the County Address Addresses Crime in Winnebago County

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WINNEBAGO COUNTY (WIFR) – More deputies could soon be joining the ranks of the Winnebago County Sheriff's Department.

"I'm very optimistic for the future," Joan Sage, Government Affairs Manager for Comcast, said.

Sage says today's State of the County address was the best she's ever heard.

"I think we're going to see a dramatic change in a positive way to reduce crime with all of these plans in place," she said.

Instead of focusing on businesses and the economy, Chairman Scott Christiansen devoted the address to a new initiative called Knock Out Crime. It means more patrols and more cops. The county is working to hire five new deputies, they would be the first hires since 2009.

"A very critical component is having enough staff on the streets and that's the first line if you will in fighting crime," Chairman Christiansen, said.

When crimes do happen that yellow tape at crime scenes will soon have a new look. Information for Text-A-Tip, encouraging witnesses to text or email police about what they saw, will now be on the police tape.

To cut down on 911 calls the county is creating a call center for non-emergencies, starting June 1 that number will be 211.

While most of the talk was crime, business leaders hope it will lead to more growth.

"We know that there are a lot of businesses we would like to have here that probably are not looking at us right now until we improve our crime statistic," Rockford Area Economic Development Council President, Janyce Fadden, said.

"If we reduce crime we will have more businesses and things will just get better in every area of our community," Sage said.

Christiansen says you can't cut down on crime without building up the economy and vice versa. Starting in July the county and United Way plan on expanding a re-entry program to help parolee's find jobs. The hope is if they have a job they'll stay out of trouble.

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