To combat a rising violent crime rate Winnebago County hosts its first public safety summit. Both police and community leaders from around the area came to hear ideas from crime fighting experts. They include police from Chicago and Cook County, plus top researchers.
"Traditionally your police department has been reactive to crime situations so crime occurs police are called hopefully they investigate and make an arrest. That should not be the limitations of what police do," says Jack Cutrone, Illinois Criminal Justice Info Authority director.
The Rockford Police Department admits in the last few years without a full staff that is how a lot of times it's officers operated. Cutrone says police need to be more visible and interact more regularly with the community. Departments also have to reach out to each other as they work within shrinking budgets.
"It is very clear that collaboration is a big part of this. We have to work jointly and we have we have done a lot of things well over the years. But we need to intensify this further as it relates to narcotics, gangs," says Scott Christiansen, Winnebago County chairman.
"In Chicago for example they have the Fusion Center and bringing together multiple agencies in law enforcement and analyzing the data," says Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey.
But Cutrone says before we look to police for all the answers. The community needs to look at itself and what we are each doing personally to help. He says police can't fix poverty, lack of an education, broken homes, all which can end in criminal behavior.
"We need to step back and take a broader perspective with not only how we can deal with crime itself but the things that contribute to crime."
This is the first of many summits Winnebago County plans to host to deal with issues facing the community. In March the focus will be on social service providers.
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