The Rockford Housing Authority faces a growing crime problem but not from it's own residents. In 2012, the housing authority saw more than a hundred arrests than the year before but the number of its own residents being charged dropped. RHA says in part the increase is from a harder crackdown on people who do not follow the rules.
"When you do that obviously that means though it is very likely we are going to catch more people doing things they shouldn't be. So we expected our numbers to go up," says Ron Clewer, Rockford Housing Authority CEO.
In 2012, Rockford Police made 353 arrests on Rockford Housing Authority properties compared to 224 the year before. That's a 57-percent increases, but of those arrested only 41 were residents.
"What we are finding is those crimes that are being committed and arrested and the bans being committed at the RHA properties is people that are non-residents," says Chief Chet Epperson.
RHA's CEO says the other reason for the high crime numbers is new software for the security guards. In the past, security had no real way to run names to see if people had been banned for things like drugs or fighting. A ban from the property means the next time that person is found on the property they can be arrested for trespassing. The new software means the can get an up-to-the-minute ban list, which in the long-run should help police
"That's our goal for 2013 in some of our hot spot areas in our developments is to determine what is attracting some developments to have non-residents come to those particular areas, congregate, loiter, end up getting arrested," says Chief Epperson.
"We agreed to the community that we were going to provide safe and quality affordable housing. Historically, we have not done a good job of doing that so now we are living up to our own accountability by doing exactly that providing safe and quality affordable housing," says Clewer.
He says it hopes to see the number of total arrests actually start to drop by this summer after enough people who don't live on the properties understand how strongly the policies will be enforced.
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