RPD's Strategy To Reduce Teen Crime

More detectives have been assigned to help juveniles avoid violent environments.

ROCKFORD - Just two days have passed since Rockford Police found the body of 16 year old Jamie Rodgers in an alley on Kent Street. His body was found with a gun shot wound. Events like these are a pattern that Rockford Police Lieutenant Kurt Whisenand says has been going on for years.

"Unfortunately what we've seen not just this year but over the last several years is not only the offenders who are getting younger and younger, but also seeing victims getting younger and younger," Whisenand said.

Rodgers was not the first teen death of the year in Rockford. Just under a month ago 12 year old Donavan Ruland was shot riding an ATV, and this past Thursday night a 17 year old was shot in the leg. Whisenand says juvenile violence isn't just a Rockford problem.

"These aren't issues that are unique to Rockford, we've seen this trend nationwide over the last two or three years with younger and younger offenders," he said. "It has to do with them growing up in environments or living in environments that desensitize them to violence," he added.

Whisenand says police in the past year have begun to dedicate more detectives to cases where juveniles have been physically or sexually abused, in an effort to remove them from a violent home life. It's a trend youth leader Eric Ladd also is trying to change. 

"What our goal is to get our kids off the streets away from the drugs and gang activities," Ladd said. "Give them something positive to do, keep their minds on something that's useful," he added. Ladd and Victory Outreach Church developed a program called the Youth G.A.N.G or 'God's Anointed Now Generation'. Ladd believes the violence won't change overnight, but any effort can make a difference.

"This is going to happen again, whatever we can do to prevent one child from getting caught up in something like that, we're doing the best we can," Ladd said.

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