The Rockford Police Department SCOPE team has been busier than ever, using specialized tactics to take down dangerous suspects.

SCOPE stands for Specialized Community Oriented Police Enforcement, a police unit that focuses on very specific crimes.

Lieutenant Eric Bruno from the Rockford Police Department says the SCOPE team is the enforcement arm of the Investigative Services Bureau, and they’ve been busy arresting offenders and fighting crime.

“They are responsible for some of the worst of the worst that we have in the city,” said Lt. Bruno. “Specifically, they deal with a lot of the gun violence, narcotics as well.”

Made up of two teams, with a total of 11 officers, the SCOPE team is currently housed in District 1.

The unit handles multiple investigations at a time, working overnight hours in plainclothes and unmarked cars, they help relieve the burden on regular patrol units.

“They’re really a group of highly trained officers and we count of them for a lot of different functions within the police department,” said Lt. Bruno.
The unit can also be enterprising; gathering intelligence and teaming up with other area agencies to bust criminals.

“We were having multiple shootings. The number of murders increased dramatically,” said Dominic Iasparro, a former Deputy Chief for Rockford Police and and Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department, who created the SCOPE team in 1994.  “The amount of crack cocaine that was available on the street just exploded. 1993 was probably one of the most violent years in the city’s history. And, as a result of that, we came up with different options for adding additional manpower to the city.”

Although it’s gone through a couple name changes since it was first formed, the goal of the SCOPE team is still the same: working hard to reduce violent crime and make the city safer.

“I’d consider it a great success,” said Iasparro. “They make a large number of arrests. There’s a large number of people that went to the penitentiary, very violent offenders that went to the penitentiary, based off of work that they did. And it’s growing.”

Lt. Bruno said it’s not uncommon for the SCOPE team to seize a gun every single day they work.

The unit works seven days a week, and will soon be moving to their new headquarters at the Justice Center downtown.