UPDATED: ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- City council unanimously voted to approve the second residential officer home at 1007 15th Street. The officer will not only work but live at the home, making them available whenever their neighborhood needs them.
ROCKFORD, Ill (WIFR) -- A new program aims to give a whole new meaning to 'being neighborly.’ Rockford Police say resident officers could help our city cut down on crime.
"Why should the police have a free place to stay?” questioned Jacqueline Spellman. “Police have income."
Spellman moved into her Brewington Oaks apartment earlier this year but says she's not a big fan of what the Rockford Housing Authority is planning.
"Everybody else has to pay rent to stay safe so why can't the police pay rent?" she said.
Rockford Housing Authority CEO Ron Clewer says giving a few Rockford Police Officers a free place to live would make RHA properties safer for the people living in them.
"There are times where we would like police officers to be in a unit, and monitor the activity around,” Clewer said.
"I can't appoint someone to live somewhere," said Rockford Police Chief Dan O’Shea.
Chief O'Shea said he'll leave that choice up to his officers but does support RHA’s idea. In fact, O’Shea already has plans to take it a step further.
"Let's go to grade schools,” the chief expanded. “Go to The Boys & Girls Club and work on traffic concerns, or street lighting concerns, or code issues. And then work with the residents, who they live with, as neighbors to root out any problem houses; any gang houses; any drug houses, and improve the quality of that set geographical area that they're responsible for."
"It'd really make a big impact, believe me,” one RHA resident told 23 News.
"It'd be better to watch the place,” agreed another resident. “Because there are a lot of people that do a lot of stuff here too; a lot of drugs; a lot of shootings."
O'Shea says resident officers are something his former department (Elgin, IL) relied heavily on. The idea is to have the city buy properties in high crime areas to have non-patrol officers live in them. He hopes to start the program by the end of this year.
"Elgin PD started in the 90's,” O’Shea said. “Washington D.C. does it, the Peoria, IL PD does it; it has shown tremendous success when it's been utilized."