In Rockford, police ar hoping to create a stronger bond between the department and the people it’s sworn to protect and serve.
On Monday, officers hosted a “Cops to You” event in the Sablewood Drive neighborhood, where over a hundred residents came out to enjoy a free meal and snacks with the Rockford Police.
“Sablewood was kind of a hotspot for violent crime,” said 9th Ward Alderman Bill Rose.
Sablewood Drive has been a busy place for shootings over the last several years and Rockford Police are very familiar with the area, as its been a crime scene more than once. In May of 2018, 21-year-old Jordan Lilly was killed in the street.
The city adopted a new parking ordinance, which forbids vehicles from parking on Sablewood Drive between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., in an attempt to shut down after hours parties.
One area church leader says the children need to know the community is there to support them.
“Sablewood is one of the most dangerous streets in Rockford, and there is [sic] families all over the place, there is kids all over here, and the best way we can reach the next generation is getting those kids and getting them in church and in programs, and other things like that,” said Jeremiah Griffin, of Halsted Road Baptist Church.
Officers handed out hot dogs and snow cones to kids as a way of showing the youth of the Forest City what it means to protect and serve.
“When young people or young kids see the police and the fire department, in a way, that’s helpful, where they’re serving the community,” Rose said. “I think they’re more likely to go up to them and say ‘hey, I have an issue’ or ‘I have a need.'”
Rock Valley College, Rockford Public Schools, the Rockford Park District, as well as CrimeStoppers, were all involved with the event.
Residents of the neighborhood say an act of kindness can make a big change in the future.
“If we all come together, it could be…I believe it could make something happen in a positive perspective,” said resident Christa Ewing.
There is no date set yet, but Alderman Rose said there would be another community event on Sablewood Drive sometime this Summer.