Covering the Land of Lincoln

Rockford tackles on-going violent crime with life bettering programs

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) – Rockford leaders partner with several area organizations on programs to reduce crime across the area and make the forest city a better place to live.

The city of Rockford shared a list of programs it’s launched that are geared towards reducing violent crime. I spoke with leaders behind those initiatives to find out how they plan to make Rockford a better place to live.

“It’s for individuals who’ve been released from parole or probation and are deemed as high risk by evidence of a risk that needs assessment,” said Mirlana Dokken, the chairman’s office criminal justice initiative director.

Between October 2021 and October 2022, violent crimes in Rockford dropped 4% – the number of shots fired calls fell 11%. Dokken credits that reduction to programs like Project Safe Neighborhood.

“Working with them to develop their technology skills as well as getting them employed. Working with individuals who were recently incarcerated is to help them connect to pro-social supports,” said Dokken.

With a total of 35 participants a month, the program is designed to turn life around for criminals at a higher risk of reoffending. They work on things like work readiness, education and peer support.

“Unfortunately some people don’t accept the offer of help. Whether they commit another offense or don’t live their life to the fullest they could have lived it,” she said.

The Rockford Park District focuses more on children and building a strong relationship between them and the police department.

“Our spring basketball league. That league is where our middle school and high school students are able to come at a time where most of their seasons are coming to an end,” said Austin Taylor, the Rockford Park Districts sports recreational director, “They interface with not only the mentors of the referees that are around but then we also tap into the Rockford Park District police department as well as the city of Rockford police department.”

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