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A neighborhood park watch program helps keep Rockford parks safe

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Your eyes, ears and some time. That’s all you need to play a key role in keeping city parks safe.
With the help of the Eagle Eye Park Watch program, Rockford Park District officers are getting some much needed help watching over it’s 176 parks.

“By having the citizens keep an eye out, they know what is in the parks that is normal and what is not normal,” Rockford Park District Police Officer Lisa Hodges said.

The program works like neighborhood watch programs. The park district says research shows property values can be boosted by as much as 20 percent if a home is located within 500 feet of a well-maintained park.

“Their kids and their families use these parks. They want to know that when they’re there, that things are going to be the way that they should be and that if there is an ongoing problem, that we’re going to be aware of it,” Hodges said. “If we need to be around a little more often, then that’s what we’ll do too.”

Police ask residents to be on alert for vandalism, drug or gang related activity, misuse of playground equipment, fights, fires and littering.

“When you see something, say something,” Hodges said. “Please call and report it, you can call the non-emergency line to do that.”

Hodges advises not to wait too long to report.

“Try not to wait a day or two,” Hodges said. “We’d like to have this information while it’s happening, when it’s happening is when we are able to deal with it.”

RPD police say waiting even just five minutes, cuts the chance of catching the criminal by almost half.
When calling, try to remember the person’s gender, race, clothing, approximate age, height and any weapons involved.

“We can just check it out,” Hodges said. “If it’s not a big deal, then no harm no foul, at least we made a check of the park.”

Residents can schedule a park watch presentation for their organization. To schedule, call the Park District Police at 815- 987-8874.

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