The violent crime throughout Rockford has many residents living in fear. But even as violent crime continues to rise, an investigation I did back in November show that arrests by Rockford police have gone down.
Incoming Rockford Police Chief Dan O’Shea says the city’s growing arrests gap has caught his attention.
He says, “I don’t have enough information on prior arrests, and prior crimes, and I’ll work with prior arrests and prior crimes and I’ll work with the command staff and the officers. What do you see is the problem?”
But it’s not just the arrest gap he wants to combat. O’Shea is inheriting a police department with reportedly low morale. The police union constantly clashed with former chief Chet Epperson, and his officers gave him a no confidence vote.
O’Shea says, “I really believe I can solve that problem with open communication. With the union membership, as well as supervisors and command staff. I’m approachable. I have an open door policy. I have it currently, and I will have it there.”
He says he won’t hold officers back from doing their jobs. He adds, “If you allow them to do it, in non traditional ways, I mean instead of just driving out, going out in a patrol car answering calls, go solve some problems. Go talk to people. Go build relationships. Come back with some different ways we can solve problems. And we will listen to them, I’ll listen to them.”
O’Shea also hopes having his officers and the community on the same page will help them close the chapter on violent crime.
He says, “290 police officers in Rockford can’t do it without 100-150 thousand people helping us.”
O’Shea’s last day with Elgin police is April 8th. He starts in Rockford on the 18th. The future chief also says he supports geographic policing, and equipping officers with body cameras.