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Rockford works to reduce youth crime

With young people committing crimes, the city is taking steps to turn the trend around
Updated: Jun. 2, 2021 at 7:14 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - As the number of young people committing crime rises, the city of Rockford is taking steps to turn things around.

City council members Tuesday night voted for the Mayor’s Office of Domestic and Community Violence Prevention hopes to expand their efforts to address this by going for the root of the problem. Leaders are putting together a plan which focuses on how younger offenders got to where they are, starting as victims themselves.

“If that trauma goes unmitigated, you don’t get counseling, you don’t learn ways to deal with that trauma,” said Rockford Police Deputy Chief Kurt Whisenand. “If that goes unmitigated, you are more likely to become desensitized to violence and you are more likely to commit violent crimes yourself.”

Some experts even point to youth homelessness as a major factor.

“It exposes our children to vulnerability specifically for trafficking and if you’re part of a marginalized community like the LGBTQ-IA community, or others, that’s a force multiplier for that sort of risk in vulnerability,” said The Mayor’s Office of Domestic and Community Violence Prevention Executive Director Jennifer Cacciapaglia.

Cacciapaglia is optimistic about the project. She believes it will begin to drop the number of violent crimes in the city... and she has the backing of the Rockford Police Department.

“We are very excited at the prospect to have something that we really believe has a significant chance, if not a complete chance at reducing efficacy as it relates to reducing out the crime rate in Rockford, Ill.,” said Cacciapaglia.

Even though it’s a work in progress, Chief Whisenand says Rockford Police will continue to stay focused in hopes of helping put the city on the right track.

“I’ve worked for this department for 28 years. We’ve tried a number of different methods to address the violent crime problem. Our hearts are in the right place. We’ve always worked hard. This is probably the next step,” said Whisenand.

Funding will come from several places, including from Rockford Police. The group is asking for $250,000 this year and an additional $500,000 in the future.

If city council members approve this next week, the group can hire three more members to help with their research.

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