Winnebago County deputies to patrol temporary casino for at least another year

Published: Jan. 26, 2023 at 10:11 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - The Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office agrees to keep up its patrol efforts at the Hard Rock Casino in Rockford for at least another year.

This comes on the heels of a shooting in the parking lot last May that ended with one person dead.

Since the casino opened in November 2021, the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office has put almost 4,400 hours into protecting the safety of guests each year.

“We’re working hard with casino management to make sure that the grounds are safe,” says chief deputy Rick Ciganek.

Off-duty Winnebago county deputies rotate 12-hour shifts at Rockford’s Hard Rock - An Opening Act to provide constant surveillance for its guests. Thursday the county board voted to keep the relationship going for at least another year.

“Crime is a problem with Winnebago County and we will do everything we can to support our police officers. Bring this crime rate down,” says Winnebago County Board Member Brad Lindmark.

This allows the office to hire two more deputies for the casino and assist with any additional events. Since Hard Rock pays the deputies, that keeps taxpayers from footing almost $300,000 worth of salaries.

“It’s been a detail where our deputies like to work it. The casino staff likes to have us there. The people visiting like to see the police there. All around it’s been a great process,” says Chief Deputy Ciganek.

Board member Brad Lindmark says the deputies’ work at the casino the first 14 months has proven to be invaluable.

“Having their presence alone is very strong. If we have problems with the casino, people are going to quit’re going to lose tax revenue, and (casino goers) need to feel safe in the community.”

“The more proactive deputies, police officers we can have on the street, the safer this community is going to be,” says Ciganek.

The sheriff’s office also agrees to patrol several places throughout the stateline, like forest preserves, schools and the village of Machesney Park.

Ciganek tells us he’s optimistic this partnership can continue once the permanent casino opens later this year, although nothing is official at this moment.