Rockford residents bring gang violence concerns to Rockford P.D. - – Rockford’s News Leader

Rockford residents bring gang violence concerns to Rockford P.D. gang unit

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Rockford police say they try to keep an open line of communication with people in the city, sometimes that communication's only one direction, especially when it comes to gang violence.

The question is, who's to blame for violent crime? Some citizens say officers need to do more, police say they can't get innocent to people help them catch the bad guys. What's clear to one resident is that a major problem exists.

"We are being overrun by gangs. That's what's controlling the city now." -says LULAC President Mary Lou Castro, who is primarily involved with the Hispanic community.

Castro constantly hears stories about violence, but says there's a disconnection between minorities and law enforcement.

"The community is scared of the police." -she says.

A group at Rockford's Centennial United Methodist Church gathered to discuss these issues with officers from Rockford Police Department's Gang Unit. Detective Brad Shelton, a member of that unit, says police are trying to tackle the gang problem, but in many situations, they can't get information.

"I can't charge them unless there's someone there to point the finger at them, whether it's the victim or witnesses." -he says.

The church's pastor, Enrique Gonzalez, believes officers are doing what they can to establish relationships.

"The police officers are walking by, I have witnessed that they are walking and they are present." -says Gonzalez.

But Castro thinks it's the way law enforcement comes across to those they're questioning.

"They're trying to be tough with what they're facing but when they meet the person or victim that toughness comes across differently." -she adds.

Detective Shelton says police are actively involved in schools to try and communicate with kids before they're exposed to gang activity.

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