ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Gun violence continues to plague both the Rockford community and the nation at large.
The League of Women Voters of Greater Rockford held a forum on Tuesday to talk about solutions to this problem. Panelists included Rockford’s mayor and police chief, as well as county and state officials.
Officials said that prevention is their first goal when it comes to crime. Prosecution happens when there is nothing else left to do. The goal is to be proactive rather than reactive.
“Last year, we recovered 433 guns off of the street in the City of Rockford,” said Rockford Police Chief Carla Redd.
City, county, and state leaders gathered at Second First Church Tuesday evening to discuss gun violence prevention. Jennifer Cacciapaglia is the director the mayor’s office on domestic and community violence prevention in Rockford. She said that disruptive behavior usually stems from untreated trauma.
“When we look at an analysis of 2016-2020 of our juvenile violent offenders who are out on our streets, with guns, in fact, we can tell you conclusively that depending on the year, anywhere between 65-75% of those youth are cross-referenced as previously being documented as being a victim of, or witness to, domestic or sexual violence,” Cacciapaglia said.
Incarceration is the easy way out, according to Cacciapaglia, but she believes that there are preventative measures that can be taken before it gets to that point. Redd agrees that people should not wait until the behavior gets out of control.
“I will tell you I have a lot of parents out there that really care about what their kids are doing, but it’s unfortunate that they reach an age where moms at home raising three other kids, and the 15- or 16-year-old is running rampant,” Redd said. “And mom has to shift the focus on the other kids that are in the home that she feels she can still have an impact on.”
Some of the panelists said that getting rid of loopholes is the first step to reducing gun crimes.
“I think that anything we can do to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous offenders, we must take steps to do,” Cacciapaglia said.
State Attorney J Hanley recently established a gun court in Winnebago County. It will officially open on Thursday.