“No single agency can do this alone,” says Winnebago County State’s Attorney Joe Bruscato, referring to lowering the recent uptick in violent crime across the City of Rockford.
In 2012-2013 the City of Rockford saw 1,363 violent crimes per 100,000 people. Compared to the violent crime rate of Illinois, Rockford is 3.3 times higher. The city is 3.4 times higher compared to the national rate. These statistics do not sit well with County Sheriff Gary Caruana.
“We need, as the Winnebago County-Rockford region, not only our citizens, but law enforcement — we need to take a bold step within our region to reduce crime,” Caruana says.
And he has a point. Compared to the national average, Rockford is worse in aggravated assault crimes, robberies with and without a firearm, and homicide. The city scores higher that the national average in the forcible rape category, however.
In order to combat the higher violent crime rates, the Winnebago County Board and the Sheriff’s Department launched a joint initiative to develop a Coordinated Community Response to Violence (CCRV) to help implement a collaborative coalition between the city and county to address violent crime.
This is something county officials are prepared to do.
“It is going to take a collaborative effort of all of those major partners in our community to come together to handle and take care of this public safety problem once and for all,” says Bruscato.
While the city welcomes assistance from the county, Interim Police Chief Pat Hoey is apprehensive about the specifics of the plan.
“When I asked them about their report, ‘Where’s the how on all of these recommendations?’ I want to know their responses,” he says.
City officials say they want to know how the county’s proposed plans will lower violent crime rates across the city. County officials say that being located under one roof will allow for increased and better communication between the two groups, something that will ultimately tackle the crime rates.
The two sides — the county and city — plan on meeting several times down the road to move forward.