The heroin epidemic is hitting the Rockford hard. Winnebago County Coroner Sue Fiduccia says, “I’m afraid this year, it could definitely pass last year’s [overdose total]. As of April 1st we’ve had 29, last year at around this time I think we had 17.”
Interim Police Chief Pat Hoey says Rockford Police are working with OSF to equip all the officers with Narcan. Narcan is the life saving heroin reversal tool.
Fiduccia calls heroin one of the driving forces behind violent crime. She says, “If you take a look at it, people that are addicted to heroin frequently will do your armed robberies, will do your home invasions, will steal from family, will steal from anyone.”
The rise in violent crime is a puzzle Hoey and Rockford police are hard at work trying to solve.
He says, “We will target that small group of people that’s responsible for the vast majority of our crime. And once some things we’ve noticed here is, and I think the community has and it’s very well publicized is, [they are mostly] youth offenders.”
He says Rockford officers will take a trip to New Orleans in the near future to study how the Big Easy combats juvenile crime. But in the meantime, he says lawmakers passing a state budget, and restoring funding to social services would be a big help.
Hoey says, “Without that type of interaction and support from the community, we’re going to see unfortunately this violent crime trend staying the same.”