Dozens of east Rockford residents applauded the Police Chief and Winnebago County Sheriff on Tuesday night, at a meeting at the Salvation Army Temple Corps building on South Rockford avenue, for their collaborative efforts against violent crime.
According to police statistics, violent crime has been down in 2016.
Frank Schmitt has lived in Rockford for 30 years, and he says he’s noticed a difference recently.
“I mean, it’s gonna take a little bit more time to really see the effects,” said Schmitt. “What they’re doing is a positive, and I think we’re going to reap great results from it.”
The cooperative efforts between the two departments have increased since Chief Dan O’Shea was sworn-in back in April.
“We communicate, if not daily…every other day,” said Sheriff Gary Caruana. “And it could be just chit-chat…or we go get lunch, or we might be in a meeting…or “I’m gonna have a saturation patrol, what help do you need from me?'”
Sheriff Caruana says he feels the Rockford region has turned a corner.
“The bad guys are seeing that. We’re going to be tenacious, and we’re going to get them through all the tools that we’re [using],” he said.
“In the past, I don’t know that we got a lot of service from the county,” said Schmitt. “I don’t know that the Sheriff’s Department was actually utilized or actually offered the help that’s being currently offered and afforded to the city, and I think it’s really a good thing.”
Much of the conversation also revolved around a possible merger of the two departments, but O’Shea and Caruana both say that won’t happen.
“Two agencies, in my opinion, will never become one, but we work together pretty seamlessly all the time,” said Chief O’Shea.