ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Big changes are coming to the Rockford Police Department, and officers say it's all to keep us safe.
Department brass says shifting to geographic policing, which means having three smaller stations instead of one big one downtown, will help drop property crimes and violent crime by 5% in Rockford.
“It is the biggest organizational change that we've made and we think this is going to bring a tremendous amount of change internally,” says Asst. Deputy Chief Doug Pann. “It’s going to help us build relationships in the community, and to problem solve and to reduce crime in the city, reduce the perception of crime in the city and enhance the quality of life."
Some aldermen are skeptical the change is worth it.
“I want more officers on the street I see a duplication of services if we have three locations, plus it won’t be three locations, its 4 locations because there's the administration,” says Alderman Teena Newburg. “I want to spend money on people not buildings."
Exactly which buildings will house the three district headquarters, and any other offices, has not been announced, nor has a price tag for building renovations. The current plan is to run the pilot program out of the public safety building. The program will begin January 1st.
"It will give us a good opportunity to begin to work through some of the issues we anticipate moving into geo-policing, communication issues, some of the case management logistic issues, are things we are going to try and address by working in a separate set of offices,” says Pann.
64 officers will man the new district; there are 283 total cops in Rockford. Council members hope this plan provides enough manpower to keep everyone safe.
"The west side of the river is all one district. I don't think the west side people care there's a district in the area. They want to know they have coverage by police on the streets in Rockford," says Newburg.
During budget talks Saturday, the council also got an update next year's projected deficit. It’s around three hundred thousand dollars. That number had been closer to two million dollars, but was lowered after the city reduced rates for employee health insurance, workers comp, and other benefits.