Improved Crime Numbers Spoiled by Violent Week

ROCKFORD, Ill.--It was a Rockstat meeting like any other -- with one glaring exception.

Missing from all the statistics from all of June projected on the projection screen -- was the recent rash of violence in the first week of July

 With six murder victims in six days, city officials are trying to put it into perspective.

"You take the perspective of our mission and our goal is to keep focus," said Rockford Police Chief Chet Epperson.  "Five percent reduction of violent crime. Five percent reduction in property crime for 2013 and we're on track to reach that. Even with this 4 or 5 days of violent crime."

Police say they are looking at new crimefighting strategies -- and determined to bring violent criminals to justice.

"In that small time frame, there's been a lot of activity," said Epperson. "We're working very agressively with all the leads that have been coming through."

From shootings to arson and two vacant buildings that were set on fire early Thursday morning serve as a reminder that crime and vacant properties have a tendency to go hand in hand.

"Generally if you can make a building safe and secure, you can keep people out of them," said Seth Sommer, a building code official in Rockford. "If you send out notices and let adjacent property owners know what's going on, they're more aware and will call and let us know there is problems."

And that includes a plea to citizens.

"The Rockford Police Department would be more than happy to come to mediate," Epperson said. "We would really look forward to having those calls. Those calls are a lot easier to mediate argument with tensions as opposed to someone who was shot or was killed."

Assistant Chief Doug Pann said in light of the events of the past week, he anticipates new strategies to be developed in the next few weeks.

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