Rockford business leaders gathered Thursday afternoon, urging the City to create a joint effort, with the county, to combat crime.
Business owner Joe Castrogiovanni held the news conference at Giovanni’s. He discussed the formation of a group of business owners and leaders and their ideas for combating the issue of crime throughout the city.
“I have chosen today to make this announcement for two reasons,” said Castrogiovanni. “The first is the obvious need to get the process toward collaboration started now. It has been neglected for too long and our community is suffering as a result.
Winnebago County Chairman Scott Christian says the move would not only put more officers on the streets, but also keep costs down.
“We’ve got to get the best bang for those dollars, where can we maybe eliminate duplication. Maybe we can deploy people differently to be more effective and at the same time maybe save a few bucks,” said Christiansen.
“The second, more pressing issue,” said Castrogiovanni, “is the need to retain the current make up of the Rockford Board of Police and Fire Commissioners. Many of us are concerned over the decision to replace two of three of the board members on the heels of the retirement decision made by the current Police Chief.”
Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey announced on Monday that he’d like to replace two members on the Board of Police and Fire Commissioners who are serving on expired contracts.
“I don’t think two new people would be a good idea,” said Eli Nicolosi (R) District 8 Winnebago County Board member. “We’ve already made that mistake before, previously with choosing police chiefs, so I think it’s a great idea to keep what we have now and move forward with that.”
Castrogiovanni added, “I think that any rush to replace the experienced people on the board with new ones should be viewed with skepticism.”
He says he, along with 40 other business people involved in the new group, are asking City Council to block the replacement of current board members until a new Chief is chosen.
“We need to make Rockford safer, we need to make the community safer, we need to make Winnebago County safer that’s it, i don’t care about anything else,” said Nicolosi.