Fighting Teen Crime: Rockford Police Alerting Parents

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- As parents we hope we'll notice the warning signs if our kids are hanging out with the wrong crowd. Now Rockford Police are acting as our backup, sometimes noticing things we may not.

"I made some really bad decisions as a teen and nobody stopped or looked to see what I was doing," Cindy Taylor, a mother of teenagers, said.

It's a pain Taylor still lives with today. At 17-years-old she checked herself into rehab. Her life is different now, passing along the lessons she learned to her teenage daughter.

"I've been there. I talk to my kids openly about it," she explains.

It's those life experiences that have her praising a new plan by Rockford Police. When cops see a teen hanging out with the wrong crowd or turning to a life of crime they'll go straight to the parents.

"Sometimes parents let you in and you go to their room and say, well this is gang graffiti and they look at you and go really? I thought he was doodling," Rockford Police Chief Dan O’Shea said.

When asked if she thought most parents recognize gang graffiti and drug paraphernalia, Stephanie Stark said, "no. I think either they know or they're naïve about it. They think kids are perfect and our kids are not perfect."

This comes as Rockford Police continue to fight youth crime. A group of teens crashed this stolen van a few months ago. Chief O'Shea says auto thefts and strong armed robberies are the most common crimes they commit.
Just a few weeks ago a Rockford man was hit so hard by some teens, he had a broken nose and had five stitches over his eye.

Taylor’s daughter is in with the right crowd, but finds peace in knowing police are also watching.

When officers do those home visits they may also have a pastor or someone from a community organization with them to offer services to the teen and their family.

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