ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- There’s been talk of switching the city of Rockford over to geo-policing for more than a year. It’s been a hot topic that has now spilled over to the mayor’s race.
Marvin Koch owns a business on Rockford’s west side and says as both a resident and business owner he’s worried about crimes in his neighborhood.
Koch came to the West Gateway Coalition’s Mayoral Candidate Forum to hear the candidates stance on geographic policing, something Koch supports.
"It's a new way to do business and we have to. The city's been expanding and growing and we can't just stay in one spot," Koch said.
Mayor Morrissey introduced the idea, which would add three police stations throughout the city, but Republican Michael Kleen says it’s a waste of money.
"The money that we would spend brining these three buildings up to the standards of the police headquarters would be better spent on hiring more police officers and getting those officers in high crime areas,” said Kleen.
“We can operate geopolicing in Rockford at our current staffing level,” said incumbent mayoral candidate Larry Morrissey.
West Gateway Coalition’s secretary Dayanna Chandler is worried about the state of her neighborhood.
“Abandoned property, boarded up homes absentee landlords who do not screen their tenants and those tenants attract criminal activity,” Chandler.
It’s an issue Kleen and Morrissey agree needs to be addressed.
“Our landlord tenant registry now is a creative solution to deal with a number of the issues: drugs, boardups, any code violations,” said Morrissey.
Kleen says if elected he would raise taxes on abandoned properties.
“Every year that property is abandoned the tax rates go up significantly and if the owner’s not able to pay the tax, then the property is seized and the city does with it as we would,” said Kleen.
Democratic candidate Jim Hughes had a death in the family and was unable to attend today’s forum.
He says he supports geo-policing but he only wants one new station. He also wants the city to do away with the police department’s no-chase policy.