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Rockford murder rate jumped 100% in 2020

Additionally, 171 victims were struck by gunfire in 2020.
Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 3:16 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Rockford Police Department Chief O’Shea said 2020 was his least favorite year in his position with an increase in crime rates.

“It was an incredible year for violence,” said Rockford Police Chief Dan O’Shea.

The police chief spoke after the release of the 2020 crime statistics from the city of Rockford.

Violent crime is up 20 percent in Rockford, with domestic violence having made up more than 25 percent of those crimes. The murder rate jumped by 100 percent with 36 homicides. O’Shea says his department is addressing those crimes.

“Some of those areas are lower income. A lot of them are minority people of color neighborhoods where we have a lack of trust with police. and that is in my mind no doubt equated to that fact that we were not out in the neighborhoods building bridges and relationships throughout the whole year,” O’Shea said.

Additionally, 171 victims were struck by gunfire in 2020. This is up 108 percent from 2019 with 82 and more guns were recovered in 2020 than in 2019. O’Shea shared how crime rates have changed over the past 5 years.

Jennifer Cacciapaglia — who leads the mayor’s office of domestic violence and human trafficking — announced an $80,000 grant for the No Entry Initiative program to help kids ages 8 to 11.

“Between 60% and 75% of our young juvenile violent offenders are cross-referenced in police reports as being witness to or victims of domestic or sexual violence,” Cacciapaglia said.

A program called Step Up will help the next age bracket of kids ages 12 to 17, to continue providing help for those struggling with trauma. The program has been active for about two weeks. Cacciapaglia discussed Camp Hope, a week-long camp followed by a year-long program to take part in events at the Peace Center. This is done so those interested can continue to receive support. The program just received more than $100,000 in grant funding.

Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara said since taking office his priority has been public safety. He believes significant investments have made the city safer. That includes dash cameras, gunshot detection software, and recruiting officers to represent the city they serve.

McNamara says the efforts before the pandemic were working but COVID-19 put a quick stop to many programs keeping the city on track. He says in 2021 he plans to get back on track to help the city crime rates decrease.

The mayor said kids should not have to find a sense of hope and belonging by joining a gang. He said we can live in a community that supports officers and police reform. McNamara wants the community to get in the game, be part of the solution and part of the change the city deserves.

The Mayor of Rockford said we must all work together to make Rockford a safer place. McNamara said the city can’t afford to be quiet when Rockford is losing so many young people to senseless violence. He is excited for better news to come during next year’s crime update.

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